Raking in over $1 billion per year, agriculture is New Jersey's third largest industry. New legislation signed this week allows counties to create promotional labels to propel the popularity of hyper-local agriculture products made right within their borders.
“The idea for the legislation is based on the idea that there’s a growing interest in local farm-to-table agriculture,” said Senator Steven Oroho (R-Morris, Sussex, Warren), who sponsored the bill. “Helping to highlight where food is actually produced will support that effort and help counties to build their own brands.”
“Representing a legislative district that is more rural in nature with myriad farms and a strong agricultural heritage, these types of issues are very important to me,” he said.
Senator Dawn Marie Addiego (R- Burlington, Camden, Atlantic) also sponsored the legislation.
The new bill (S-2444) is based on the success of Jersey Fresh, which launched in 1984 as an advertising, promotional and quality grading program to help farmers tell consumers about the wide variety of available produce rooted in New Jersey soil. S-2444 takes it a step more local.
“With hundreds of acres of preserved farms in South Jersey, we have terrific fresh produce. This bill supports local farmers and all of their hard work and celebrates the wonderful products they make,” said Addiego. “Creating ‘made in your county’ labels will encourage residents to shop local and support the business owners right in their own backyards.”
According to the Department of Agriculture, New Jersey has over 9,000 farms covering 720,000 acres. The state is the second biggest producer of eggplants in the country, producing 14.8 million pounds from 800 acres of land. It's also a top-ten producer of cranberries, spinach, blueberries and more.
“There is no denying that the Jersey Fresh program has been a resounding success,” Addiego said in a statement. “Now our farms, wineries, and mom-and-pop shops will have the opportunity to localize this initiative.”
Based on the new law, effective immediately, every county will have the opportunity to develop their own label, should they choose to do so, and at their own expense.