Bills Designed to Boost Key N.J. Agricultural Industry
Legislation Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak and Marlene Caride sponsored to protect and promote New Jersey’s beekeeping industry and the vital role it plays in New Jersey’s agricultural community was released Thursday by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
The three bills originated from the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Andrzejczak. They were approved by the Assembly last June and now await final legislative approval by the full Senate.
“Bees are an essential part of agriculture nationwide, needed to pollinate about a third of the food people consume, including important New Jersey crops such as apples, blueberries, cantaloupes, cranberries, cucumbers, peaches, pumpkins, squash and strawberries,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Yet, we also know of the problems faced by the industry with a decline in the honey bee population. If we don’t do more to protect this industry, our farming community may suffer irreparable harm. We cannot allow that to happen if we favor a strong New Jersey economy.”
“In New Jersey, honey production is an important part of maintaining the state’s honey bee population, bolstering the economic viability of farms and farm stands throughout the state,” said Caride (D-Passaic/Bergen). “These bills make clear that we will do all we can to protect an important job-creating industry in our state.”
· A1294 (Andrzejczak/Caride) – This bill extends Right to Farm Act protections to commercial beekeepers by including in the definition of “commercial farm” under the Right to Farm Act, a farm management unit that is a beekeeping operation producing honey or other agricultural or horticultural apiary-related products, or providing crop pollination services, worth $10,000 or more annually. Qualifying for farmland assessment would not be necessary for such a commercial farm to receive right to farm protections. However, the bill also clarifies that a farm management unit that is a beekeeping operation will not be entitled to Right to Farm Act protections for any agricultural or horticultural activities beyond the apiary and related activities unless the farm management unit otherwise qualifies as a commercial farm under that act.
· A1295 (Andrzejczak/Caride) – The bill prohibits any municipality from regulating the breeding or keeping of honey bees and any related activities, including the use of honey bees for pollination, reproduction and sale of honey bees, or the production of honey and other apiary products from honey bees. The bill directs the Department of Agriculture to regulate apiary activities in the State and adopt any rules and regulations necessary to do so, including adoption of apiary standards and municipal monitoring and enforcement standards. Finally, the bill authorizes a municipality to assume responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the apiary standards within its borders upon adoption of an ordinance incorporating the standards by reference.
· A1296 (Caride) – This bill establishes a civil penalty of up to $500 for each offense when a person intentionally destroys a man-made native bee hive. Under the bill, a man-made native bee hive is defined as a tube or other apparatus in which native bees may nest, and which is installed to attract native bees. A native bee is defined as a species native to the State that does not produce honey, but that provides for the pollination of crops or plants, or other agricultural, environmental or horticultural benefits.