$90M expected to aid farmland preservation

Gov. Chris Christie recently signed several measures that will keep New Jersey green by providing $90.6 million in grants to counties, towns and nonprofit organizations to preserve farmland across the Garden State and fund state-initiated farmland preservation projects.

He also signed A-2342 to further enhance the visibility and accessibility of “Jersey Fresh” produce and “Made with Jersey Fresh” items at food concessions in state agencies.

“Farmland preservation is an investment in our future,” Christie said. “It is important for our farmers to ensure they have the land they need to operate successful businesses; it is vital for our communities that are working hard to retain productive agricultural lands, and it is critical for future generations to ensure they will be able to benefit from all that agriculture has to offer. “Everyone loves our Jersey Fresh produce and products, so it is equally important to have these home-grown products widely accessible and more prominently displayed for everyone to enjoy. That is why we are making these items more readily available at food concessions in our state facilities,” he added.

The farmland preservation legislation (S- 2894-S-2897) provides:

 $39 million in grants to 16 participating counties to help preserve farmland under the county Planning Incentive Grant program.

 $23 million in grants to 43 participating municipalities to preserve farmland under the municipal Planning Incentive Grant program.

 $19.7 million for the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) to directly preserve farmland;

 $8.831 million in grants to eight nonprofit organizations to preserve farmland under the Nonprofit Program — the largest allocation to that program to date.

According to a press release, the SADC administers New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program, directly preserving farmland and providing grants to counties, municipalities and nonprofits to assist them in preserving farmland. To date, more than 2,000 farms covering more than 193,000 acres have been preserved statewide under the program.

Christie also signed A-2342, requiring that an effort be made by food concession stands in state government facilities to place Jersey Fresh items and Made with Jersey Fresh products in prominent locations and to clearly identify them to patrons.

Guidelines are already in place that encourage and promote to the maximum extent practical the purchase of Jersey Fresh and other agricultural food products grown or raised in New Jersey and Made with Jersey Fresh products.