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(3rd LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – As part of her continued effort to help New Jersey’s agricultural community, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley is sponsoring legislation to protect farmers from wrongful damage to their crops.
The bill (A-2664) was recently approved 76-2-1 by the Assembly and referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
“New Jersey’s laws protecting trees and plants from intentional damage date back to 1877 and 1926,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “A lot of things have changed since then, and this bill is just a simple step toward updating our laws to ensure farmers are reasonably protected. It’s the right approach for our agricultural community, which means it’s the right approach for our economic development.”
Riley noted current state law, for instance, values a sapling at $8.
“This is hardly adequate for today’s tree farmers, especially in this economic environment,” Riley said. “With this commonsense change, we are taking a quick and easy step toward protecting our farmers.”
The bill allows the owner of a damaged or destroyed tree, sapling, shrub, flower, vine or other plants to bring an action in Superior Court for the cost of replacement from anyone who commits damage without authorization.
The bill further provides that the replacement cost shall include delivery and labor charges for planting a replacement tree, sapling or shrub or the replacement of flowers, vines or other plants.
The court would determine the replacement cost based on no less than three cost estimates obtained by the owner of the damaged or destroyed tree, sapling shrub, flowers, vines or other plants.
Finally, the bill repeals the 1926 and 1877 laws that no longer reflected the current cost of replacing damaged trees and other plants or current jurisprudence for handling these types of court actions.