Category: Farm

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.

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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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.

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.

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Committee clears Dancer bill creating a loan program and tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in five counties

January 7, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill (A544), sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, that will establish a loan program and provide tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“New Jersey’s wine industry is very valuable. It not only supports the state’s economy and jobs, but also tourism,” said Dancer. “It’s smart to encourage the growth of new wineries and vineyards and help existing wineries stay competitive.” 

Under the bill, the Economic Development Authority in consultation with the Department of Agriculture will develop a 10-year pilot program to issue low-interest loans to farmers for qualified costs for new vineyards. The costs can include preparing the land for planting, purchasing vines or trees, and equipment and supplies for that purpose. This bill also allows eligible taxpayers to apply for a tax credit against either their Corporation Business Tax or Gross Income Tax liability for 25 percent of the qualified capital expenses for establishing a new vineyard or winery, or capital improvements to an existing vineyard or winery in the eligible counties.

According to a study released by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, New Jersey’s wine industry had a $323 million economic impact on the state in 2016, an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2011. During that same five-year period, the number of wineries in the state increased from 38 to 50. In 2016, wine, grapes and related industries accounted for 1,979 jobs with the majority of the jobs being in the actual wineries and vineyards with an associated payroll of $85.57 million.

The EDA will submit annual reports to the governor and the Legislature summarizing the loan and tax credit programs, including the effectiveness of increasing acreage of commercial vineyards and the number of wineries in the eligible counties.

The bill passed the Senate in 2018 and needs a vote by the fully Assembly before going to the governor. 

Update: Bill A-4800 Special Licence Plate for State Animal the Horse Passes Committee

November 17, 2019 Updated November 19, 2019

Update: I have revived a communication from Assemblyman Ron Dancer that Bill A-4800 passed the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee and will advance to the next process. See below:

“I am a co-sponsor of A4800 and am pleased to inform you that the bill passed Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee on November 18, 2019. “

Ron Dancer
12th Legislative District

TRENTON, NJ–Assembly Transportation and Committee will hear the Bill A-4800 on Monday November 18, 2019 for creation of a special licence plate for NJ’s State Animal the horse. The bill originally introduced on December 10, 2018 is sponsored by: Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson, Co sponsored by Assemblymen Thompson and Dancer

Holiday Fun at the Horse Farm

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

November 16, 2019

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ–The Standardbred Retirement Foundation held their “Holiday Fun at the Horse Farm” event Sunday. There was plenty to see and do for all, including a baby and mother horse where mom was tagged for slaughter and rescued. Horses were being shown in the riding rink outside as well as in the barn. A charity auction, outdoor fire place with marshmallows on a stick with hot cocoa, wine tasting, holiday shopping, free tack items, and the “Horse Plop Bingo” kept everyone busy.

Also at the event was several dogs saved from India and Baku City, Azerbaijan (Former Soviet Republic) by Zani’s Furry Friends ZFF, inc. The non-profit rescues animals internationally and finds homes for the animals. To adopt a furry friend see this link.

Horses are available for adoption from the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 42 Arneytown-Hornerstown Rd, Cream Ridge, NJ 08514