There’s no question – things are growing great in the Garden State.
With an impressive 9,071 farms spread across just over 700,000 acres, New Jersey farm receipts totaled over $1 billion in 2015.
The agriculture and food industry is the state’s third largest, behind pharmaceuticals and tourism. Living up to the state’s nickname, the greenhouse and nursery industry is the top commodity group. The state is also a large producer of fruits and vegetables, field crops, poultry and eggs, and dairy. In fact, New Jersey’s produce sector is one of the most diverse, with farmers ranking the state in the top 10 nationally for blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, snap beans, spinach, squash and sweet corn. Overall, the state grows more than 100 different types of fruits and vegetables for either fresh market or processing.
Aquaculture is also important to New Jersey, with seafood including bluefish, tilefish, flounder, shellfish and more sold domestically and internationally. New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry alone is valued at $133 million.
More than just crops and commodities, New Jersey agriculture encompasses technology, agribusinesses, agritourism, agricultural exports and more. To keep the industry strong for generations to come, New Jersey colleges and universities are training the farmers of tomorrow. At land-grant Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in New Brunswick, undergraduate students can major in a number of agricultural studies, including everything from animal science and entomology to landscape architecture and microbiology. The school also offers several minors and certificate programs, as well as graduate studies in food science, plant biology, oceanography, nutritional sciences and more. Other colleges and universities, such as Stockton University, Rider University and more, also offer agricultural studies programs and degrees.
Educated in Ag
New Jersey colleges, universities and agricultural education programs across the state are helping to train the next generation of farmers and ag professionals.
Schools including Stockton University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ramapo College and Rider University all offer degrees in environmental science, while students at Centenary College can obtain an equine studies degree. Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences offers a wide range of majors, from bioenvironmental engineering to plant biology, preparing students for diverse careers in all facets of the agriculture industry.
Other agricultural education programs, such as FFA and 4-H, also help prepare students for careers in agriculture starting at a younger age.
Learn more about New Jersey’s agricultural education efforts at New Jersey AgEducation.
Jersey in Bloom
Fresh, beautiful blooms are sure to brighten anyone’s day. New Jersey floriculture farmers are responsible for someone’s happiness in a big way.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, New Jersey ranks sixth in the nation in floriculture sales, bringing in $196 million in 2014, up 4 percent from 2013. Floriculture is a sector of horticulture, and the aptly named Garden State has 258 floriculture producers. It ranks third nationally in sales of herbaceous perennials and cut flowers. In total, New Jersey contains 26.7 million square feet of covered area for crop production.
Plants featured in the sector include annual bedding plants, cut flowers, Easter lilies, poinsettias, chrysanthemums, hostas and indoor flowers.
With the fast-moving pace of today’s modern technology, farmers are as savvy as ever, implementing high-tech practices to improve production.
Precision agriculture, for example, helps growers manage large fields as if they were a group of small fields for application of things such as nutrients and water. This helps reduce misapplication of fertilizers, keeping the land healthy, sustainable and producing food more efficiently.
New Jersey farmers are also taking the reins in food safety. Gearing up for the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), produce farmers in particular must adhere to the guidelines in order enhance food safety for consumers.