Tag Archive: farming

Congrats Doug Fisher

PolitickerNJ is reporting that 3rd District Assemblyman Doug Fisher will be named the new Agriculture Secretary.

This is a real ” coup” for South Jersey where farms are still very important to the economy.

It also opens up a seat in the Assembly in an election year.  Although the Republicans in that District are completely unorganized and have no money it will be interesting to see who is chosen to take his place.

That will be two South Jersey seats that must be filled in the coming days. State Senator Redd is announcing her run for the Camden mayors job and her state senate seat must be filled( she is also an important member of the Senate Budget Committee who must be replaced by, hopefully a South Jersey Senator) and now Fisher must be replaced.

It will be interesting………..  

Farmland Assessment Program Wildly Mismanaged

My opinion? If you’re running for office in NJ, you oughta be paying full freight on your make-believe farm. If you’re getting too old to make $10k a year on your land and you are a real farmer, then put it into the landbank and keep your farmland assessment. But this idiot game of selling two trees to your bro-in-law for $500  and smiling all the way to the bank as you pay 1/10th of what everyone else in your neighborhood does, just because you can afford five acres and an accountant – that’s just an entitlement issue you need to overcome. You’re not entitled to a tax break because you have a nice big property. See the following in today’s CP:

http://www.courierpostonline.c…

In New York State,  the following eligibility requirements must be met.

  * Land generally must consist of seven or more acres that were used for the preceding two years for the production for sale of crops, livestock, or livestock products.

  * The annual gross sales of agricultural products generally must average $10,000 or more for the preceding two years. If an agricultural enterprise is less than seven acres, it may qualify if average annual gross sales equal $50,000 or more.

Not so much a play farm anymore, is it? I’m totally in favor of farmland preservation – it’s rich guy playground preservation I’ve got a problem with. And I didn’t like it any better when Ellen Karcher did than when Christine Todd Whitman did – and Whitman actually had a pretty good case for being a “real” farmer, considering the ridiculously low bar set in NJ.

Time to raise the bar. Let the rich guys land bank it if they don’t want to pay the full tax. I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of the landbank process and whether this would constitute an egregious example of eminent domain run amok – I just know I don’t approve of 5 acre “play farmettes” paying dramatically lower tax rates than 1/4 acre properties on contiguous lots.

Do you live in a disaster area?

In case you missed it:

Ten New Jersey counties with farming operations have been designated primary federal disaster areas because of extensive crop damage following a summer of drought, hail and other severe weather conditions, officials said today.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer issued the edict for Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden and Burlington counties. From late spring to late summer, those counties experienced brutal agricultural losses from severe winds, huge amounts of rain, hail and flash floods, according to the secretary.

Fuel Co-operatives? Why Not?

There’s an old joke that asks what a farmer would do if he won the lottery. Why, he’d keep farming until he was broke again, of course!

But the high cost of farming isn’t really a joke.  Diesel prices are closing in on five dollars a gallon and farmers may have to buy as much as five hundred to a thousand gallons at a time.  You think gassing up a Hummer is expensive? Try feeding a John Deere or International Harvester!

File it under “all old things become new again”.  As it turns out, old Henry Ford funded work done by George Washington Carver to work out a system where farmers could actually grow their own fuel.  Yeah, bio-diesel is that frikkin’ old and it’s still a good idea. (Ford eventually dumped Carver because he wouldn’t abandon the peanut as a source of fuel – Ford thought soybeans might be a better source.)

What’s this got to do with New Jersey?  Take a jump.

Farmers protest Corzine’s plan to cut Dept of Agriculture

The NJ Farm Bureau protested Corzine’s plan to eliminate the Dept of Agriculture today by filling up State Street with at least 60 tractors and various farm animals at the “Save the Dept. of Agriculture” rally. How could anyone say no to those adorable little piglets?

NJ farm bureau protest

This was Corzine’s response:

“I understand that farmers are angry. I understand, too, that some may choose only to see irony in my proposal to cut the Department of Agriculture in the Garden  State. That said, the taxpayers of New Jersey are deeply concerned with the cost of government and demand that we set our priorities to deliver services efficiently.

Continued after the jump…

Salem County News (Special Rambling Budget Edition)

Salem County’s big political news for the last month has been Governor Corzine’s proposed budget, which hits our county in two special ways: The elimination of the Department of Agriculture and the municipal aid cuts to towns below 10,000 people.  Since I believe the state is in a terrible mess, and am an opponent of the toll road privatization scheme, I’m not going to rant and rave; I wouldn’t want to argue that aid to my little town that helps my property taxes is more important than countless state government functions, and I sure wouldn’t want to be governor.  But since I write these round-ups for Salem County, I will describe why these particular policies are tough on the county.  

I do think eliminating the Department of Agriculture would be a huge mistake.  As Freeholder David Lindenmuth observed yesterday, “by some estimates, closing the Department of Agriculture would save as little as $341,000, since the essential functions of the Department would still need to continue.”  This figure alone should bring us pause.  Setting aside the economic value of farming and the well-known benefits of food to humans, in a state where the population has supported otherwise unpopular taxes and borrowing to support Farmland and Open Space Preservation, it seems extremely misguided to undermine these efforts by eliminating the strongest support for working farmers.  The old expression was “Penny-wise and Pound-foolish.”    It’s easy to find online that preservation efforts are measured in hundreds of millions of dollars.  The saying “Million-Dollar-Wise and Hundred-Million-Dollar Foolish” isn’t as catchy, but it’s a similar ratio.  

Salem County Smart Growth Plan battles

The Salem County Freeholders held a special meeting and approved a letter appealing the state’s Smart Growth decisions.  As Today’s Sunbeam reports:

The appeal contained information from Carneys Point, Oldmans and Pennsville townships supporting why areas changed by the state to PA5 environmentally sensitive should be switched back to either PA1 or PA2, which have more opportunities for development.

All of the proposed changes could prevent more than 11,000 acres from being developed, which would mostly affect the Smart Growth corridor on the western side of the county along Interstate 295.

I would think that the letter would be posted at the Salem County website, but I can’t find it.  TheCross Acceptance Information and Updates stops in April 2007, but does have great information.  Here are small jpg maps comparing the 2001 plan to the 2006 plan:

2001 MAP 2006 MAP
2001 Smart Growth 2006 Smart Growth

The issue is the huge amount of land along I-295 which suddenly turned pale green, which means they are now PA5. It’s easy to see why this caused such a fuss!  Video on the flip…