Burlington ag community gathers to discuss issues
COLUMBUS — Farmers and those who support agriculture in Burlington County turned out in droves in September to the Recklesstown Farm Distillery here for an annual meet-and-greet with legislators.
Farmers who spoke included former lawyer, now full-time cranberry grower, Bill Cutts, blueberry farmer Tom Haines and Danielle Wainwright. Cutts spoke about the need for broadband pesticide chlorpyrifos, Haines addressed waterway and ditch management regulations imposed by the state and Wainwright spoke about being run off the road in her slower moving farm vehicles at her farm in Vincentown.
Legislators in attendance included Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling from Neptune, near Asbury Park in Monmouth County, Ryan Peters, an Assemblyman from Burlington County, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Assemblyman Ron Dancer, staffers from the offices of U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, state Senator Dawn Marie Addiego, state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and two Burlington County Freeholders, Belvir Singh and Dan O’ Connell.
Peter Furey from the New Jersey Farm Bureau in Trenton noted that the sprawling 2,600-acre farm of Recklesstown Farm Distillery owner John Probasco was among the first designated preserved farms in the Garden State, while New Jersey’s secretary of Agriculture, Doug Fisher acknowledged the challenges Probasco and his family and crew face on a daily basis looking after corn, potatoes and other crops on such a large swath of land.
Other topics of concern to the farming community that were discussed at the meeting with legislators included deer and wildlife management in general; fire inspections, wage concerns for seasonal workers, immigration concerns, farmer membership enabling legislation for the Pinelands Commission’s membership, tighter border control of imported dogs and other pets, and tariffs on soybeans, corn and cranberries.
Cutts spoke about the need to be able to use chlorpyrifos pesticide, a broad spectrum pesticide.
“In recent years, we have seen pests that have re-emerged because we have pretty much eliminated some broad spectrum pesticides,” Cutts said and he noted a proposed ban on this insecticide would cut into healthy yields for growers of cranberries and blueberries.
“We need this broad spectrum pesticide in our tool box, and if we don’t have them in our tool box, we will not be able to protect our crops,” Cutts argued.
“What happens in this age of mass media is somebody thinks a pesticide is bad and it goes viral on social mass media everybody gets on board, and they say get rid of this. We say, ‘give these decisions to the people who know and understand the problems, DEP and EPA.’ ”