TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie signed measures to provide $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 today. He also signed a bill 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,” said Christie. “It’s important for our farmers to ensure they have the land they need to operate successful businesses; its vital for our communities that are working hard to retain productive agricultural lands, and it’s critical for future generations to ensure they will be able to benefit from all that agriculture has to offer.
“Helping to preserve New Jersey’s agricultural heritage in a state as populous as New Jersey makes good sense,” said Asm. Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex). “Protecting farmland helps control overdevelopment and works to ensure that, years from now, residents will still be able to enjoy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables.”
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. Each county is eligible for a $1.5 million base grant. A county that spends down its base grant is eligible to compete for additional monies from a $15 million competitive grant fund while it lasts. The potential maximum grant to any county under this program is $4.5 million;
$23 million in grants to 43 participating municipalities to preserve farmland under the Municipal Planning Incentive Grant Program. The six towns participating in the program for the first time are eligible for $750,000 each, while the 37 towns that previously qualified for funding are eligible for $500,000 each;
$19.7 million for the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) to directly preserve farmland; and
$8.831 million in grants to 8 nonprofit organizations to preserve farmland under the Nonprofit Program – the largest allocation to that program to date.
“These grants will help to ensure that, years from now, residents in urban and suburban communities alike continue to have access to fresh, farm grown produce at reasonable prices,” said Asm. Peter J. Barnes, III (D-Middlesex). “They also help to preserve and continue New Jersey’s rich agricultural heritage.”
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.
“There is a great interest in buying local and supporting our farmers,” said Douglas H. Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture. “State agency food concession patrons do not have to go far to get high quality, healthy Jersey Fresh produce and other state agricultural products.”
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