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New Jersey Farm Bureau News

***For Immediate Release***

NJ Farm Bureau Opposes $15 Minimum Wage Proposal – Cites Unique and Severe Impacts to Agricultural Industry

 

(Trenton) – New Jersey Farm Bureau, the state’s largest agricultural organization, opposes the $15 minimum wage proposal (S-15) heard in by the Senate Labor Committee today.

 

Farm Bureau President Ryck Suydam presented testimony as well as individual farm profiles showing the potentially devastating effects such a major increase would have on some New Jersey farms. “The immediate impacts of such a change for some farms would range from $100,000 up to $300,000,” said Suydam. “Because farmers are price-takers, not price-makers, they would be handcuffed by this – unable to pass along the state mandated cost increase.”

 

The impact of a large wage increase will have a greater impact on agriculture because farming is such a labor intensive business. In the farm profiles shared with the committee, the payroll share of farm expenses was 38%. A recent survey of the nursery sector of New Jersey agriculture shows that figure to be 40% of total farm expenses.

 

Other states, and previous New Jersey legislatures, have recognized agriculture’s uniqueness and treated the industry differently when it comes to minimum wage. “Seventeen other states have a separate agriculture minimum wage,” Suydam said, adding that most recently, New York state created a two-tier approach to their wage increase in recognition of the disproportionate impact to rural industries. The New Jersey Legislature itself provided a grant program in the 1990’s to help farmers cope with a minimum wage increase.

 

Suydam added, “New Jersey has a history of recognizing that farming is particularly vulnerable to certain policy initiatives and has developed special programs and rules to maintain and grow this $1.3 billion wholesale industry. This is yet another one of those situations.”

 

 

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Contacts: Ben Casella or Ed Wengryn – 609-393-7163

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Ed Wengryn -or- Helen Heinrich; 908-568-4939 or 609-393-7163

NJDEP’s Proposed Revisions to Highlands Rules Get it Right

(TRENTON) — New Jersey Farm Bureau (NJFB), the state’s largest organization of farmers and landowners, is pleased to see the positive changes that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is proposing in Septic Density rules for the Highlands.

“One of the most positive changes we see is the reduction in lot sizes and the alignment of the Highland septic density rules with the Highlands regional master plan”, said Ryck Suydam, president of New Jersey Farm Bureau. “The old septic density model was based on arbitrary science and the simple land use classifications of forested or non-forested lands. The new rule is based on sound, peer-reviewed science and links septic density with the Highlands region’s three land use capability planning zones…protection, conservation and existing community. These changes also help protect landowner equity in the region, which is crucial to the welfare of the agricultural industry,” he added.

Farm Bureau is also supportive of the use of greater data sets in establishing background nitrate levels for the three capability planning zones.

“New Jersey Farm Bureau first challenged NJDEP in 2005 when it proposed emergency rules for water quality in the Highlands. One of the complaints was the limited use of data to establish background water quality standards. This rule proposal reflects the use of greater data,” said Suydam.

Through the development of the Highlands Regional Master Plan and the corresponding NJDEP rules, New Jersey Farm Bureau supported the use of sound science to ensure that the rules reflect the real world conditions in the Highlands region and permit the council and its constituent municipalities to take advantage of planning tools that balance growth with natural resource protection. This new rule proposal does just that.

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More than a decade ago, Kirby Bros. stopped blending corn, oats, and bran and topping the concoction with molasses to satisfy the cravings of horses that had long been part of the South Jersey landscape. The 100-pound bag of horse feed, priced at $13.60, was the biggest seller, said Chuck Kirby, who inherited the 140-year-old family business and mill in Medford and operated it with his wife, Jan, and their son, Chaz.

As farms started to disappear, Chuck Kirby said, it made more sense to import livestock feed from Pennsylvania for their customers and to introduce a new line of food for pets, birds, and wildlife as suburbanites moved into the area.

Click here to read the full story from philly.com.

Farm Bureau submitted comments recently on NJDEP’s proposed revisions to the Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) rule. This rule guides development statewide by providing a framework for municipal and county planning agencies to identify areas suitable for current and future wastewater infrastructure. The original version put forward by former Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration with rural landowners was highly problematic for its attempted use of large lot regulation under septic density schemes. As with the pending updates to the Flood Hazard rule, NJDEP’s current proposed overhaul of its WQMP rule seeks to streamline water management planning by eliminating duplicative regulatory requirements and enabling local planning entities more discretion in making site-specific determinations that balance environmental protection and economic growth.

Click here to read NJFB’s WQMP Comments