AUGUSTA, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) recently visited the Sussex County Fair and met with Bergen, Sussex, and Warren County farmers, the NJ Farm Bureau, board members of agricultural organizations, and local electeds to discuss issues facing farmers in North Jersey.
The Gottheimer-backed Inflation Reduction Act will provide more than $3 billion in USDA loan relief for economically distressed farms in Jersey and nationwide.
This legislation will also lower prescription drug prices, especially for seniors, provide support for families struggling with the high cost of health insurance costs, cut energy costs, pay down the debt, and put in place the most important climate investments in our nation’s history. It makes no changes to personal income tax rates or those impacting small businesses and is fully paid for, Gottheimer said.
During the pandemic, Gottheimer helped pass bipartisan legislation ensuring that thousands of impacted small businesses throughout Jersey — like family-owned North Jersey farms — could stay afloat by utilizing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
Among the issues Gottheimer discussed with North Jersey farmers were supply chain issues and ways to increase meat processing capacity, reliable access to fertilizer, farm program funding, loan relief for economically distressed farms — like North Jersey dairy farms, and the need to promote agriculture in New Jersey.
“Here in Northern New Jersey, our flourishing farms provide healthy food to our communities, create thousands of jobs, and are important and major revenue generators for those who live and work in this beautiful part of New Jersey. That’s why I’m committed to making sure agribusiness here in Jersey stays affordable and competitive,” Gottheimer said.
“Food and agriculture production is a driving force in our community — it’s the third-largest sector of our economy here in New Jersey — and I am lucky to have some tremendous farms in my District. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about finding solutions to supply chain issues, broadband access, and more with our farmers who so desperately need it,” Gottheimer said.
More than 9,000 New Jersey farms generate over $1 billion for the state’s economy every year. In Sussex and Warren counties, dairy alone generates $22 million. Like the farmers who joined Gottheimer’s roundtable, most farms in Jersey are family-owned and have been passed down for generations.
In June, Gottheimer helped pass the bipartisan Lower Food and Fuels Costs Act to make sure North Jersey farms can keep locally-sourced food on our tables and stay competitive in global markets. This bipartisan legislation takes action against any meat or poultry companies that have, or are continuing to collude and make insane profits on the backs of our hard-working middle class families. Monopolists that collude to corner a market aren’t capitalists.
After hearing from farmers about workforce-related issues, Gottheimer pushed for and helped pass the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act last Congress which established more H-2A visas to help our farms achieve maximum productivity.
Gottheimer was joined by Assemblyman Parker Space of Space Farms, New Jersey Farm Bureau President Ryck Suydam, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Sussex County Department Head Steve Komar, State Agriculture Board Member Holly Systema of Windy Flats Dairy, Board of Managers of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station President Tracy Smith, Jason Swarts of Deckertown Holsteins, Pete Southway of Springhouse Creamery, Warren County Board of Agriculture Member Mitchell Jones, Sussex County 4-H Program Assistant Tanya Patrie, Vice President of the Sussex County Board of Agriculture Doug Ricker, Bergen County Board of Agriculture President Jim Abma.