Nelson Albano: Agriculture and New Jersey's Future : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land
Nelson Albano: Agriculture and New Jersey’s Future
Agriculture – one of the economic bedrocks of the state of New Jersey – must always have a bright future in our state and in Cumberland County in particular. It is up to the new administration and Legislature to ensure that bright future. I have the honor of being the incoming Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, which will enable me to enhance the enviable record that I and my colleagues in the Legislature, Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Matt Milam , have of supporting our farmers and everyone involved in the farming industry at every level. Our vigorous advocacy on their behalf will continue and they will be a top priority for us. As one way of demonstrating that commitment, I will have an open door policy for our farmers, who have an open invitation to work with me on any issues of concern or interest to them. I also assure them that I will continue to work very hard with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the new administration will take whatever steps are necessary – including fewer and less costly and unnecessary regulations and too little help for our farmers – to address the issues facing them, including the need for increased revenue and creation of jobs. Farming has a long and successful history in New Jersey. Healthy farms and a farming industry are vital to maintaining that history. Unfortunately, fewer folks are choosing farming as a livelihood. We must do everything we can to reverse that trend so that the farming industry remains strong and viable. Creating a healthy farming economy is vital if we are to accomplish that goal. The more that our residents and businesses benefit from increased farming revenue and jobs creation, the better for everyone. At the top of my to-do list is to ensure that the Department of Agriculture listens to and works with our farmers. It is clear to me that there are at least two major priorities: farmland preservation, and assurance that New Jersey Fresh remains a major part of our state’s landscape. Farmland preservation. The concept is to halt the sale of our farmland to developers to just make money at the farmers’ expense by allowing developers to build housing. Current state law prohibits farmland from being sold for housing, manufacturing and commercial purposes so that existing farmlands remain farmlands. We need to make our farmland preservation better so that our farmers are protected and helped, and to save more open space and greenways. I am committed to this goal. New Jersey Fresh. The dollars that go into this program come back to us many times over in the form or enhanced farming revenue. Few would argue that Cumberland County produces the best crops anywhere in the south Jersey region – and please be aware that whenever the issue of contaminated produce arises, it never involves crops grown in our county because our crops are irrigated by what is virtually drinking water quality water, making New Jersey Fresh produce safer and better tasting. It is imperative that New Jersey Fresh quality is maintained and Senator Van Drew, Assemblyman Milam and I will continue to keep the Agriculture Department focused on this priority. Just as we did when the administration threatened to eliminate that department during the budget process two years ago, we will fight any similar attempts this year tooth and nail. Any elimination of the Agriculture Department would have literally cost the state more money than it saved, which obviously makes no sense, especially when our farmers and the businesses that depend on healthy farms need advocacy, not abandonment.
Let there be no mistake. I am passionate about listening to and working with our farmers and everyone involved in the farming industry. As the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee’s chairman, I will do all that I can to translate that passion into better, richer lives for our farmers.