Category: Farm and Garden

Allentown FFA Reports On Summer Activities

September 12, 2023

ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Allentown FFA reported the following activities over the summer:


We had our annual June chapter meeting and cookout on June 7 to finish out the school year.
We made the most of what we could amidst the smoke from the Canadian Wildfires. There were
lots of fun games like inside kickball and shop cornhole. We introduced the new leadership team
of the Allentown FFA. We were also incredibly grateful to our alumni for coming back and helping
make food for everyone. Overall, it was a fantastic way to kick off summer vacation.

The leadership team hit the ground running with POW (Performance Objective
Workshop)-WOW. The first of many leadership training courses for officers. There was lots of planning
for the year, as well as team-building activities to bring the leadership team together.


Monmouth County Fair Produce

The Monmouth County Fair was held July 26-29, 2023. Members and alumni from the chapter
worked with the other Monmouth County FFA chapters at the FFA Produce stand. This event
helps raise for all chapters funds to help support travel and other expenses throughout the year.
Safe Tractor Operator Career Development Event (CDE)

During the summer, the Allentown FFA sent two contestants to the Burlington County Farm Fair
to participate in the Safe Tractor Operation contest. During the contest, the members had to
safely back up a four-wheeled wagon and a two-wheel trailer. They also had to operate a skid
steer to carry a bucket of water and the contestants also had to operate a front-end loader.

Meat Evaluation & Technology Career Development Event

During the summer, the chapter sent a team of 4 individuals to participate in the Meat
Evaluation & Technology CDE held in Jacksonville NJ. Participants in the competition delve into
the science of meat. During this team event, students evaluate beef carcasses for quality and
yield grade; identify various meat cuts and place carcasses; and identify wholesale and/or retail
cuts. The team placed 2nd overall!!


Canoe Trip

The newly elected leadership team participated in a canoe trip down the Wading River to work
on getting to know each other, learn to work together, and have fun! There were lots of good
memories from having lunch along the river and the advisors splashing everybody!!

9th-Grade Orientation

On August 29, the leadership team gave presentations and set up displays to show incoming
freshmen what the FFA was all about. We wanted to spark interest and introduce them to our
Agriculture program with its many opportunities.
Allentown Officer Leadership Training

To finish up our summer of planning and preparing, the leadership team stayed over at the
Allentown Presbyterian Church after Freshman orientation. We spent the day working with our
Committees to plan the year’s events. In addition, there were various team-building activities to
improve our teamwork. We ended the night with our sponsor’s dinner to communicate with our
sponsors and discuss ways to improve the chapter and better connect with the community!!

Sauickie Proposal Would Save More Farmland Slated For Warehouse Development

July 17, 2023/Assembly Republicans Press Release

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Farmers enticed to sell their land to warehouse or high-density developers would receive counter offers from the state under a new preservation program proposed by Assemblyman Alex Sauickie.

“While warehouses are good for consumers, they significantly impact a community’s character. Not every municipality may have the infrastructure to handle the increased truck traffic or the land may be in a historically significant area,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “That is why my goal with this bill and other measures has been to give farmers and towns more tools to make the decisions they believe are right for their communities.”

The bill (A5723) requires owners intending to sell farmland for warehouse development or any other high-density development project to notify the State Agriculture Development Committee. The committee would then determine if the land is suitable for preservation and make a competitive offer based on the landowner’s terms, existing purchase offers, and land value and development rights. 

“This provides landowners with options that they may not otherwise have considered,” Sauickie said. “Protecting the land from development will also reduce carbon emissions from heavy construction equipment and additional truck traffic, while also preserving the residents’ quality of life.”

Because of the environmental benefits, Sauickie says the $50 million preservation program would be supported through the state’s global warming solutions fund, which receives money through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Balancing farmland preservation, warehouse construction, and residential and environmental concerns is important throughout the state, but especially in smaller and more rural towns,” Sauickie added.

Another Sauickie-sponsored bill (A4950) that concerns warehouse development requires the State Planning Commission to prepare, adopt and disseminate model ordinances to help local governments prevent land-use conflicts when warehouse development applications are received. It unanimously passed the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee late last year.

“A thoughtful and more flexible approach to development and preservation is needed to grow our economy while maintaining the Garden State’s valuable agricultural industry,” Sauickie said.

Booker Introduces Bill to Protect Farmers and Ranchers

February 28, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Lee (R-UT) led a bipartisan effort to reform agricultural checkoff programs. Joined by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act will make checkoff programs more responsive to the farmers who are required to contribute to them. Checkoffs are mandatory Department of Agriculture fees assessed on a per-unit basis that fund boards designed to promote the commodity as a whole. However, checkoff funds are frequently coopted against the interests of some or even a majority of contributors. Countless farmers, ranchers, and other producers have seen their checkoff dollars squandered or used against their interests. This bill would prohibit certain wasteful, anti-competitive, and deceptive behavior from checkoff boards.

“Farmers and Ranchers are being forced to pay into checkoff programs that often advocate against their best interest and support food system consolidation. These programs need transparency and oversight so a farmer can be sure they aren’t required to fund their own demise,” said Senator Booker. “That is why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help increase transparency and prohibit conflicts of interest and anti-competitive practices in these programs.”

“Checkoff programs are filled with waste and often abuse those who are forced to contribute to their coffers,” said Senator Lee. “These common-sense reforms will ensure that checkoff funds promote and protect all ag producers (big and small) who are meant to be served by these programs.”

“The current checkoff system does not provide enough transparency to our farmers on how their hard-earned dollars are used,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am committed to ensuring the checkoff programs are modernized and reflect the best interests of our farmers.”

“The decades old beef checkoff program is ill-suited to meet the needs of today’s cattle farmers and ranchers,” said Bill Bullard, CEO, R-CALF USA. “In fact, the program promotes corporate control and globalization over the interests of America’s cattle producers. We applaud Senators Lee and Booker for introducing this legislation to meaningfully reform the beef checkoff program so it can begin working for, rather than against, the American cattle producers.” 

“For far too long, America’s farmers and ranchers have been forced to pay into government checkoff programs, only to see their dollars used against them by trade and lobbying organizations representing the world’s largest meatpackers and grain traders,” said Farm Action Fund President Joe Maxwell. “We applaud Senators Lee and Booker for their continued effort to bring transparency and accountability to these corrupt programs.”

“American family farmers are in peril and today, every cent counts,” said Taylor Haynes, president of the Organization for Competitive Markets. “If we’re going to be forced to pay into USDA’s checkoff programs then the very least we should expect is transparency, accountability, and oversight of our hard-earned dollars, and the OFF Act accomplishes just that.”

 “The OFF Act was first introduced in the 115th Congress and here we are in the 118th Congress still working for transparency and accountability to reform the USDA’s commodity checkoff programs,” said Deborah Mills, chairwoman of the National Dairy Producers Organization. “This speaks volumes about what frustrates producers who are paying into checkoff programs. The recipients of the checkoff dollars are the greatest proponents of maintaining the status quo. Producers are being denied the basic right to have their questions about their investment answered.” 

“I don’t want my hard-earned dollars funneled to a quasi-governmental organization that works against my best interest and represents industrial agriculture’s continued movement toward the monopolization of farming,” said Will Harris, past president of the American Grassfed Association and proprietor of White Oak Pastures. “We’ve farmed the same land in Georgia since 1866, and I want to ensure that future generations are able to continue to do the same.”

“We applaud Sens. Lee, Booker, Paul, Warren, and Gillibrand for their tireless work and leadership on the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “USDA’s commodity checkoff programs remain under fire because of their lack of transparency, misuse of funds, and damaging anti-competitive practices that have bankrupted millions of American farmers.” 

Rain Is Finally On The Way

The National Weather Service reported that much needed rain is finally on the way.

National Weather Service Mount Holly reports rain in the forecast from Sunday though Monday night. The Mid-Atlantic River Forecast Center map shows 1″ to 1.25″ of rain for most of our area. The US Drought Monitor reports the range in our area goes from abnormally dry to severe drought. The Murphy Administration is urging residents and businesses to conserve water as persistent dry and hot conditions continue to stress water supplies throughout the state.

Many agricultural crops have been heavily damaged due to the drought and may be too late to recover even with rain in the forecast.


A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 86. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday Night

A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.


Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 81. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Monday Night

Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 8pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 8pm and 2am. Low around 68. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.


A chance of showers after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Corn in East Windsor, New Jersey on August 9, 2022 showing crop damage to lack of rain.

Allentown FFA chapter of Allentown, NJ, named 3 Star Chapter for 2022 National Chapter award by National FFA Organization

The Allentown FFA chapter of Allentown, NJ, has been recognized in 2022 National Chapter Award Program from the National FFA Organization.

The program recognizes outstanding FFA chapters from throughout the country that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve chapter operations using the National Quality FFA Chapter Standards and a Program of Activities that emphasizes growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership.

Chapters that received star ratings during judging this summer and will be recognized at the 95th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct 26-29.

All star-rated FFA chapters receive honors made possible by corporate sponsor John Deere.

“At John Deere, we believe that FFA will grow the next generation of leaders capable of changing the world for the better,” Aaron Wetzel, vice president of production systems at John Deere, said. “Star chapters help inspire these vital leaders through their exceptional commitment to FFA’s mission, which they bring to life through inspiring agricultural education, rich career exploration, and meaningful community service.”

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 735,000 student members as part of 8,817 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tri-County Cooperative Market

June 12, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ – Farmers are gearing up and improvements have been made at the historic Tri-County farmers’ cooperative and auction market on Route 33. First opened in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, in recent years, the market has opened itself up to the public and a variety of restaurant and catering hall owners from around New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

Farmer George Asprocolas of Asprocolas Acres in Millstone is president of the vegetable and fruit growers’ cooperative. Each week, three days during the week, at the height of the season, farmers bring their extra produce to Tri-County’s loading docks and walk-in refrigerators, to sell at wholesale prices. The market is open Wednesdays in June, depending on the weather and availability of cool weather crops like asparagus, peas, strawberries and a variety of lettuces.

“We had some paving of our parking lots done last season, and we also put a new roof on our extra storage building,” Asprocolas said, “we have two contractors who will add garage doors to our open loading dock building. Much of the funding for the improvements at this historic marketplace came from grants from the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA.]

“Every year it varies a little bit, but we usually have between 45 and 60 participating farmers in the cooperative,” Asprocolas said, adding customers can check in with the cooperative’s website to see available produce.Tri-County’s loading docks also host farmers from as far away as Swedesboro and Vineland, Vernon in Sussex County and even a few Amish farmers from Lancaster, Pa. “We regularly get participating farmers from a wide range of areas,” he said.

While farmers who wholesale their excess produce at Tri-County all season long pay annual membership dues, what’s most remarkable about the operation are the low buyer’s fees. Customers such as churches or schools, can come in and buy in wholesale quantities for a $2 fee. Customers get to “know their farmer” and support local farms by purchasing Jersey Fresh products. For more information, updated produce lists and instructions on how to order online or via phone, refer to our website:

Facebook: Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market

Hours of Operation

April – May: Wednesdays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM

June – October” Mondays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM Wednesdays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM Fridays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM

619 Route 33 West

Hightstown, NJ 08520

Just picked produce on the way to the market.


* The non-profit, tax-exempt Section 521 Tri-County Cooperative Market was founded in 1933 by a group of farmers from Mercer, Monmouth and Middlesex counties at the height of the Great Depression.

*What began as a wholesale-only market has recently opened its doors and loading bays to restaurant owners, chefs, caterers and members of the general public who wish to take advantage of wholesale prices.

*Products from up to 50+ farmers – from all over the Garden State — are available during the growing season.

*The Tri-County Auction Market Association owns just under five acres of land off Route 33 in Hightstown. The land was purchased for $1 from farmers Bertha and James Taylor on Aug. 18, 1937.

*Veteran third and fourth generation farmers recall how farm trucks would be lined up all the way to Route 130 in the 1960’s and 70’s during operating hours at the market, before a lot of precious, fertile farmland in central New Jersey – some of the most fertile farmland in the United States — was sold off to developers for housing and office parks.

*Farmers pay a nominal fee at the start of each growing season to belong to Tri-County Farmers Cooperative Market, and Future Farmers of America, [FFA] members, benefit from free membership in this unique, tax-exempt, Section 521 farmer-owned facility.

*There are no membership fees for buyers. This means a family of five or several neighbors buying together can come in during market hours and order a bushel of corn

–about 64 ears — at $14 to $16.

*With a redesigned website,, transactions between buyers and sellers are conducted much more easily. Restaurant chefs and suppliers can place

orders via the website. Farmers who operate their own retail stands can order produce they don’t grow from other farmers.

*The Tri-County Market remains a farmer-run, farmer-owned tax-exempt cooperative with four officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, and five general members.

*Restaurant owners come from as far away as Connecticut to purchase “Jersey Fresh” produce at the market’s official seasonal hours from”5:30 until the last farmer leaves” on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. People from the restaurant industry can also pick up and order produce on Tuesdays and Thursdays by calling to make an appointment.

*With a large walk-in refrigeration area on site, patrons of the Tri-County Cooperative Market [who understand the seasonal nature of fruits and vegetables,] can order any of the following products at wholesale prices.

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Assemblyman Ron Dancer Honored by Rutgers for Lifelong Dedication to Horse Industry

November 1, 2021

The Rutgers Equine Science Center has chosen Assemblyman Ron Dancer as this year’s spirit of the horse award winner in recognition of his contributions to New Jersey’s horse industry.

“Horses have always been a part of my life and I am honored to be able to give back to the equine industry, not only because it has been so impactful personally, but also because it is such an important part of New Jersey’s identity,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “The horse is our designated state animal and appears on our state seal. New Jersey is home to more horses per capita than any other state in the nation.”

Dancer is the son of the late famed harness horse racing driver Stanley Dancer and professionally raced and trained harness horses from 1968 through 1998. He has served on the boards of numerous equine organizations, including the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Sire Stakes, the U.S. Trotting Association, and the New Jersey Racing Commission.

As a lawmaker since 2002, Dancer has worked to ensure the sustainability of the equine industry through legislation authorizing the state leasing of the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park racetracks to the private sector, and advocating for state funding in New Jersey’s annual budget to support the Rutgers Equine Science Center in New Brunswick.

“Assemblyman Dancer emulates the type of person this award was meant to recognize,” said Dr. Karyn Malinowski, founding director of the Equine Science Center. “The Equine Science Center appreciates all he has done for the New Jersey horse industry.”

Having served in the United States Army, Dancer actively champions the Equine Science Center’s research into equine-assisted activities for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Through research and education, the center explores the relationship between humans and horses, advances the well-being of horses, and addresses industry issues. 

Dancer’s award will be presented virtually at the center’s annual Evening of Science and Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 11.

Juneteenth Celebrated At Mercer County Stables

June 19, 2021

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)-The Mercer County Park Commission joined the African American Cultural Collaborative in celebration of Juneteenth today, June 19, 2021 at the Mercer County Stables.

Visitors learned about Black Equestrians and the fascinating history of Black Cowboys!

To learn more about the Juneteenth celebrations, see

Photo gallery of today’s event below:

Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Provide $10 Million to Support Food Banks in New Jersey

April 21, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed A5405, which will direct $10 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. This funding will be distributed to seven New Jersey food banks in order to continue providing families with food assistance during the pandemic.   

“Our food banks have been a critical resource for thousands of families impacted by the pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s necessary funding will help organizations to continue supporting New Jerseyans to put food on the table for their families. I want to thank our Congressional Delegation for their commitment to secure this funding.”  

The funding will be distributed to the following organizations:  

  • Community Food Bank of New Jersey, $5,200,000;  
  • The Food Bank of South Jersey, $1,500,000;  
  • Fulfill Monmouth & Ocean, $1,500,000;  
  • Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, $1,100,000;  
  • Norwescap, $300,000;  
  • Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, $300,000; and  
  • Farmers Against Hunger, $100,000. 

“Food banks carry out a crucial and valuable role in serving the food insecure for all communities throughout New Jersey,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “This funding will help ensure access to meals and the necessary assistance for those who may find themselves in need of a helping hand during a time of stress.”  

“Food insecurity is a quiet crisis that has been made worse by the pandemic,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “The economic fallout has made it tragically hard for a growing number of families to put food on their tables. No one in America should be allowed to go hungry and no family should be forced to live with the fear of not knowing where the next meal is coming from. These food banks are a lifeline for those in need during a time of difficult challenges.”   

“Over 1.2 million people in this state now suffer from food insecurity, a staggering number that has increased substantially because of COVID-19,” said Senator Steven Oroho. “By lending a helping hand to large food banks, this law will help address the hunger crisis in New Jersey head-on.” 

“Far too many families are struggling to put food on the table right now because of the financial impact of COVID-19,” said Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblywoman Angela Speight, and Assemblyman John Armato, in a joint statement. “Throughout this crisis, food banks have been providing critical support to community members in need – ensuring no one who seeks their help goes home hungry. Allocating funds to New Jersey’s food banks will help these organizations continue their important mission of helping residents get through challenging times.”

Governor Signs Dancer Legislation Allowing Employees To Live On Horse Farms

January 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Home is where the horse is— at least that’s the case in New Jersey after Gov. Phil Murphy signed Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill permitting full-time, year-round farm employees to reside on premises where horses are boarded. 

“Groomers, trainers and other full-time farm employees often need extended access to the horses they care for,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Permitting them to live on the premises will allow them to fully perform their duties and take better care of these animals.”

The legislation (A2768/S1245) amends the Right to Farm Act to allow housing for equine-related farm employees as long as it is in a separate area or level from the horses, has its own ventilation system and meets all uniform construction code standards, including fire ratings. The Right to Farm Act protects responsible commercial farms from public and private nuisance actions and unduly restrictive municipal regulations.  

“Taking care of a horse is one of the most demanding and worthwhile jobs one could do,” said Dancer. “The horse industry is important to New Jersey’s economy, providing over 13,000 jobs, as well as to our environment with more than 7,200 horse farms providing 176,000 acres of green pasture land and open space.” 

New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state in the nation. Horses are so important to the state’s economy, history and culture that they are designated the state animal. 

Dancer’s Bill Allowing Employees To Live On Horse Farms Advances

October 22, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill to allow housing for employees at facilities that board horses passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee Thursday.

The bill (A2768) would amend the Right to Farm Act to allow housing for equine-related farm employees as long as the newly constructed housing is in a separate area or level from the horses and meets all Uniform Construction Code standards, including fire ratings.

The bill also makes providing this housing an act that falls under Right to Farm protections.

“Farm employees often need more access to the horses they care for,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “They will be able to take better care of these animals if they can live on the same farm.”

Dancer’s bill will require the state agriculture development committee to adopt rules and regulations to implement the bill. The committee would adopt an agricultural management practice that permits the housing of equine-related farm employees in the same building where the horses are boarded either in a separate area or level from the horses.

“Taking care of a horse is one of the most demanding and worthwhile jobs one could do,” said Dancer. “The horse industry is important to New Jersey’s economy, and we must keep this industry thriving.”

Updates On Unsolicited Seeds From China = DO NOT PLANT Contact NJ Department Of Agriculture or USDA

July 27, 2020

SEE YESTERDAY’S MIDJERSEY.NEWS STORY HERE: If You Receive Unsolicited Seeds From China DO NOT PLANT Possibly Invasive Species

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Early yesterday (Sunday) morning the Internet started to light up with mystery seeds being delivered all over the USA including New Jersey. Do not plant these seeds since they could be contaminated or be an “invasive species” that could create havoc in the ecosystem.

For New Jersey residence that have recieved the suspicious seeds contact the NJ Department of Agriculture at 609-292-3976 or

Information on unsolicited seeds from China

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is aware that people across the country have received unsolicited packages of seed from China in recent days. APHIS is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and State departments of agriculture to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.

Anyone in New Jersey who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China should immediately contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-3976 or Also, you can contact the APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

You can also report to USDA here:

If individuals are aware of the potential smuggling of prohibited exotic fruits, vegetables, or meat products into or through the USA, they can help APHIS by contacting the confidential Antismuggling Hotline number at 800-877-3835 or by sending an Email to USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law.

If You Receive Unsolicited Seeds From China DO NOT PLANT Possibly Invasive Species

July 26, 2020 — Update 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm

July 27, 2020 Update 9:55 pm to include additional information for reporting to NJ Department of Agriculture:

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is aware that people across the country have received unsolicited packages of seed from China in recent days. APHIS is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and State departments of agriculture to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.

Anyone in New Jersey who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China should immediately contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-3976 or Also, you can contact the APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

Reports from several state’s department of agriculture reporting unsolicited seeds being mailed to random residence around the country. Moments after posting the story today, MidJersey.News received a post via Facebook of a pack of seeds sent to Hopewell Township-Washington Crossing, NJ area. Be on the lookout, Do Not Plant and report to USDA APHIS link posted below.

So far reports of seeds being sent to NJ, NY, Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, Washington State and the United Kingdom.

MidJersey.News did communicate with the NJ Department of Agriculture on Sunday about the seed issue and see links below on how to report to the USDA:

Report here:

If individuals are aware of the potential smuggling of prohibited exotic fruits, vegetables, or meat products into or through the USA, they can help APHIS by contacting the confidential Antismuggling Hotline number at 800-877-3835 or by sending an Email to USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law.

A package sent to Hopewell Township-Washington Crossing, NJ, provided by post on MidJersey.News Facebook:

Press release from Virginia:

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.

Please do not plant these seeds. VDACS encourages anyone who has received unsolicited seeds in the mail that appears to have Chinese origin to contact the Office of Plant Industry Services (OPIS) at 804.786.3515 or through the email.

Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.

Health And Safety Protocols For Horse Racing In NJ

May 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan today announced an Administrative Order authorizing horse racetracks to reopen on June 1st with no spectators, and with health and safety protocols in place. The Order will take effect immediately.

“Horse racing is an important part of our state economy and a beloved pastime in New Jersey.” said Governor Murphy. “I am happy to announce that after close consultation with our office, racetracks in our state will be able to reopen in the coming days.”

Racetracks will be able to open on June 1st, for racing without spectators. The AO also requires racetracks to adhere to a number of social distancing requirements that are laid out in the order. Under the order, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission, or her designee, will have the authority to inspect racetracks to ensure that all required policies are being followed.

A copy of the Administrative Order can be found here.

Dancer bill excluding horse-boarding services from sales tax goes to governor’s desk

January 13, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. – Both the Senate and Assembly passed legislation (A1045) today, sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, to exempt horse boarding, maintenance and related services from the state sales tax.

“There has been ongoing confusion in the industry about tax responsibilities, and as a result, stables have closed up shop and abandoned the state,” said Dancer (R-Ocean), who has been pushing the measure since November 2013.

Horse boarding, maintenance and servicing businesses are required to register as a seller with the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury. Under current law, they are being taxed as “space for storage.” The bill relieves these businesses and services from sales tax obligations.

“Our neighboring states do not charge sales tax on horse boarding services. By leveling the playing field, New Jersey’s equine horse industry will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage,” Dancer continued.  “Establishing clear sales tax guidelines will save New Jersey jobs and businesses. Horses are farm livestock, not ‘storage units’ in a warehouse and are stabled, not stored. I thank the Legislature for advancing this important bill.”

The Rutgers Equine Science Center estimates the horse industry contributes more than $1 billion to the economy in a state with more than $4 billion in equine-related assets.

The bill now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy for consideration.