Updated January 19, 2012
By Lauren Wanko
More than 600 agriculture leaders met for the annual State Agriculture Convention in Atlantic City.
This is the first year the convention takes place concurrently with the Vegetable Growers Association. Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher spoke this morning about what industry leaders can do to ensure the continued growth of the sector in the state.
There was a focus on using social media to market farms, working with retailers, finding a way to target the urban communities in the state, and more. Bob Goodman, Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Rutgers University, said it is imperative to target these urban communities in the state. According to Goodman, 76 percent of the people in New Jersey reside in urban or around urban areas. “If we don’t focus on the things that they care about as a sector of the economy, we in agriculture . . . are not going to survive,” said Goodman.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney spoke about the direct wine shipping legislation that was just signed into law, saying “we had an enormous victory the other day.” It was accompanied by a roaring applause from the crowd. Sweeney stated that “this was about the little guy getting a victory and it became very personal when I saw these large industries basically punishing little farmers …. you have to let these farmers find industries where they can be profitable.”
Governor Christie made an appearance later in the day and cited a number of agricultural achievements from last year including the wine legislation, crediting Sweeney’s leadership in pushing for the new law.
He also praised the attendees for fostering New Jersey’s image saying, “we are not the state of Snookie and the Situation.”