AUGUSTA, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Thursday hosted a Farm Bill roundtable at the New Jersey State Fair with Bergen, Sussex, and Warren County farmers and local agriculture industry officials to discuss their legislative priorities.
The Farm Bill is passed once about every five years and will expire at the end of September. Members of Congress are currently submitting their priorities to be included in the final package, as the legislation is currently being crafted and is scheduled for a vote next month.
New Jersey is one of the top ten producers of specialty crops and Jersey dairy farmers produce over 120 million pounds of milk annually, adding $22 million to the state’s economy. Jersey agriculture creates thousands of jobs and brings millions of dollars to the region.
Gottheimer’s Farm Bill priorities include boosting investment for specialty crops, fighting back against invasive species, pushing to expand the purchasing of whole milk, expanding investments for meat and poultry processors, supporting 4-H programs, and advocating for reform to the USDA’s definition of “rural” to better fit North Jersey farms.
Key Priorities Gottheimer Has Submitted to the Upcoming Farm Bill:
- Increased investment for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
- Reforms to the Rural Business-Cooperative Service Loan to boost access to grant programs for Jersey farmers.
- Additional investments to combat spotted lanternflies.
- Provisions that support whole milk being promoted and advanced in our schools, for nutrition assistance programs, and in the military and that oppose regulations to ban or limit flavored milk in schools.
- Reforms to the USDA’s definition of “rural” to prevent Jersey farms from being shut out from vital programs and resources simply because of their proximity to big cities.
“It’s because of all of you — and the more than 1,000 farms in New Jersey’s Fifth District — that families across our state and nation have fresh, high quality, and nutritious meals. You not only feed families, but you also create thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars to our region,” Gottheimer said. “That’s why with the upcoming vote on the Farm Bill — historically bipartisan legislation that we pass once just about every five years — I want to hear from each of you what you’d hope to have included. I’ve been working closely with the Farm Bureau and others on initial feedback, but I really wanted to hear from all of you, from Jersey farmers and rural businesses.”
Gottheimer was joined by New Jersey Farm Bureau Research Associate Liz Thompson, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. President & CEO Chris Reese, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. Director of Marketing & Member Services Claudia Raffay, Agriculture & Natural Resources County Agent II. Sussex County Extension Department Head Steve Komar, Springhouse Creamery and Chairman of Sussex County Agriculture Development Board Pete Southway, Jim Hunt of Windy Brow Farms, Erin Lytle of Tranquility Farms, Windy Flats Dairy and State Agriculture Board Member Holly Systema, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Warren County Chair Tracy Smith, New Jersey Department of Agriculture Animal Health Technician Lisa Delambert, John Krueger of Circle Brook Farm Company, Jack DeGroot of DeGroot Farm, John Lima of Lima Family Farms, Chief of Staff for Sussex County Board of Commissioners Christina Marks, Sussex County 4-H Program Coordinator David Foord, Sussex County 4-H Program Assistant Tanya Patrie, and John Lima of Lima Family Farms.