TRENTON, N.J. – On Thursday, an Assembly panel released a bipartisan package of bills sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, bringing greater transparency and accountability to the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC), which leads New Jersey’s farmland preservation efforts.
“In today’s world of global markets, high inflation, and low wholesale prices, virtually no farmer can survive by just being a farmer. It takes flexibility and understanding by the SADC to keep farmers on the land. Unfortunately, this approach has been in short supply at the SADC the last few years. These bills help restore the balance between the farmer and the SADC,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said.
The bill package includes:
- The “State Board of Agriculture and State Agriculture Development Committee Transparency Act” (A4034), which requires minutes and recordings of the State Board of Agriculture and the SADC to be posted for public review.
- Requiring gubernatorial appointment of the SADC’s Executive Director and limiting the appointee to a term of five years (A4035). This change from appointment by the SADC ensures accountability in the agency and signals that this is not a lifetime appointment.
- Directing the SADC to provide financial and performance information regarding the Farmland Preservation Program (A4036). There is growing concern that over-regulation of the farmland preservation process by the SADC is causing farmers to sell their property instead of preserving their land.
- Requiring the SADC to compensate owners of preserved farmland for changes in regulations that increase cost of business (A4038). Again, this measure tries to balance the needs of the farmers with those of the SADC by requiring the agency to compensate for additional regulatory burdens that reduce farm viability.
“The Garden State can no longer sustain the status quo at the SADC. Changes need to be made. New Jersey’s agricultural future depends on a strong state agency that supports our current and future farmers,” Dancer concluded.