Andrzejczak, Mazzeo & Wilson Bill Package to Strengthen, Protect & Promote Farming in NJ Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation Assemblymen Sgt. Robert Andrzejczak, Vincent Mazzeo and Whip Wilson sponsored to boost farming in New Jersey and make it easier for farmers to protect their crops through improved wildlife management was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

“Farming is the lifeblood of New Jersey and is a crucial part of its economy and heritage,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “We cannot sit idle while farmers confront the many difficult challenges imposed by today’s economy, especially when a few commonsense steps like these can strengthen and boost our farming community. With these steps, we will ensure agriculture remains an economic driver for our state.”

“We need to always be thinking of new and innovative ways to help our farmers thrive and continue creating jobs and economic growth for our state and region,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We can help accomplish that by taking sensible steps to make sure our farmers are positioned to succeed in this challenging economy. These bills are, quite simply, the right thing to do if we’re to continue supporting farmers in our state and the economic activity they create.”

“New Jersey has a long-established identity as the Garden State, and we have a vested interest in preserving it,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This state’s farmers are key players in that process. This package of legislation aims to serve the dual purpose of stirring up economic growth and safeguarding our state’s status as an agricultural powerhouse.”

The bills:

· A3118 (Mazzeo) – Requires establishment and implementation in certain circumstances of model wildlife management plans for open space and farmland.

This bill would direct the state to adopt model wildlife management plans for use by local public entities owning open space. This bill also directs the state to adopt model wildlife management plans for use by local public entities seeking funds to acquire and preserve farmland. Current law does not require a wildlife management plan for any publicly-owned open space or farmland parcels.

“This requirement would allow the state and local public entities to transparently and effectively implement wildlife management plans on lands purchased, developed or preserved with public funds,” Mazzeo said.

· A3120 (Andrzejczak) – Requires Fish and Game Council to establish summer bow and arrow hunting season.

This bill would require the Fish and Game Council to establish a bow and arrow season for deer – and for such other game animals the council deems appropriate – on privately-owned cultivated lands during the summer months. Currently, the state does not provide for a bow and arrow season in the summer.

“Allowing hunting with a bow and arrow during the summer would assist farmers in managing wildlife populations during the height of growing season,” Andrzejczak said.

· A3121 (Andrzejczak/Wilson) – Authorizes issuance of multi-species depredation permit for wildlife control on farmland.

This bill would require the establishment of a multi-species depredation permit that allows an owner or lessee of land, a portion of which is under cultivation, or the authorized agents of the owner or lessee, to kill any animal of a species listed in the permit that is on the land and known to cause crop damage.

“For those whose livelihood depends upon the success of their crops, having the means to protect their land is essential,” said Wilson. “Damage attributed to wild animals on that land can have a serious negative impact on overall revenues. Allowing farmers to limit or prevent crop depredation will facilitate the cultivation process and help avert economic losses.”

The bills were released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Andrzejczak.