TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Ron Dancer introduced legislation last week in an effort to significantly boost funding for the Jersey Fresh program.
The bill (A5045) would make a supplemental appropriation of $200,000 from the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund. The state’s current 2021 budget allocates $100,000.
“This creates an additional funding source to help support the program’s advertising, promotional, and quality grading program activities,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “When the Jersey Fresh label was first established, it made sure local farmers were given the opportunity to promote their high-quality homegrown products. Now more than ever, we need to help our New Jersey farmers compete in what has become a global marketplace for produce.”
Delegates at the state Agricultural Convention held in February passed a resolution urging the state Legislature to increase funding for the program with an eye for doubling participation in the program.
More than 9,900 farms in the Garden State generated $1.1 billion in sales in 2018 according to the Jersey Fresh website. Of these, more than 1,000 use the Jersey Fresh logo on their packaging.
The Jersey Fresh program was established in 1984 when the state legislature provided $325,000 in funding to promote New Jersey-grown agricultural products and to spread the word about the benefits of buying local.
The marketing program was later expanded to include Jersey Grown for nursery crops, Jersey Seafood for farmed and wild-caught fish and shellfish, Jersey Equine for equine livestock, and Made with Jersey Fresh for value-added food products made with New Jersey-sourced produce. These additional programs related to Jersey Fresh could also receive funds under the appropriation.
More than 30 other states, including Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Grown) and Vermont (Vermont Made), have implemented their own promotional programs following the Jersey Fresh model.