Suydam gives last address as president
WEST WINDSOR — Outgoing New Jersey Farm Bureau President Ryck Suydam made a number of salient points in his “farewell” address to farmers here on Nov. 14.
Allen Carter, business administrator at Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, was elected to serve as the next president of the NJFB.
Suydam, who lives on family-owned land going back to the late 1700’s off Route 27 in Franklin Township, southern Somerset county, has used his background as an educator to his advantage in his decade of service to New Jersey farmers. He knows media relations, but he also knows community and government relations and of course, knows how to relate to other farmers around the state.
“Farm Bureau is as relevant now as it has ever been,” he said. “Challenges to our industry come all over. It could be animal rights’ groups, pressure from labor, regulations, input costs, wildlife and many others.”
He summed up the accomplishments New Jersey Farm Bureau effectuated in the last few years, starting with 18 formal visits with state legislators to familiarize the newly-elected officials with the hard realities many farmers face around the Garden State.
Keeping smaller, mid-sized and larger family farm operations viable is a major focus point for Farm Bureau, and working with people at Rutgers Cooperative Extension, he said, “we are putting it in writing, the challenges of inflation, drought, input costs, and how will [we ensure] that Ag will survive and thrive in New Jersey?”
Suydam also touched on other issues important to farmers, like the need for more livestock processing facilities that can easily accommodate smaller livestock farmers’ needs, soil protection standards on preserved farms, special occasion events to give owners of preserved farmland opportunities to boost their income. He also touched on progress that has been made keeping potential warehouse developers at bay and and not using up the best agricultural grounds in the state with solar panels.
Farmers have also had good successes with spreading awareness and enjoying protections from deer and black bears, “and there’s good news on the bear hunt coming out,” he said, citing Gov. Murphy’s okay on a December bear hunt that farmers say is desperately needed in so many counties, as bears can do a lot more damage to a farmer’s crops than deer in very short order.
“We want to thank Joe Poulin of Rutgers, his deer report has brought more and more attention to legislators, some of whom are now contacting us on what to do about deer on farms,” Suydam said.
“We are supporting the new veterinary school at Rowan University and our contact there is Dr. Matt Edson, dean, and a Farm Bureau member,” he said.
“Here are some big numbers: a $3 million supplement for ag extension. Now we are pushing for a $5 million increase to the baseline, which has been flat for more than the last decade. We will be asking for your help to get that $5 million added to the baseline through our ‘Advocacy in Action,’ contacting your legislators [and urging them] to vote yes on the increase,” he argued, pointing out the state budget has $85 million to combat hunger, with $10 million of that to be produce to food banks, direct from local growers.”
Suydam closed on an optimistic note: “We remain the ‘go to’ when decision makers or the press have questions on issues that affect the business of farming. I feel good about the next 10 years, because agriculture is vital to the fabric that is New Jersey. We will continue to help one another…big or small — yes, agriculture matters.”