NJ Farmers Face Ever-Changing Conditions [AUDIO]
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher spoke to more than 500 agricultural leaders and officials on Wednesday, noting the challenges and opportunities facing farmers in the Garden State. The annual convention continues today in Atlantic City.
"Agriculture is changing in the sense that it is becoming hyper-efficient, and we're really competing," Fisher told Townsquare Media. "Farmers in New Jersey are not just competing with their neighbors and neighboring states; they're competing on a world stage."
For that reason, Fisher said farmers must be aware of changing opportunities within the industry. They have taken on new products, like the peppadew fruit from South Africa, which now has its national headquarters in New Jersey.
One sector that has become a growing phenomenon in New Jersey is aquaculture, farming aquatic life under controlled conditions. New Jersey has experienced a heap of success with its ability to grow hard-shell clams and oysters. The sector, however, took a big hit from Sandy, and it may be a while before aquaculture is restored to its former status.
"Whether you believe or don't believe in global warming, we do know that the coastline is changing, and some of the growing season opportunities are changing as well," Fisher added.
Fisher said farmers look forward to winter and aren't bothered by the current frigid temperatures. The main concern for farmers, said Fisher, is when the winter season actually ends.
"If we get warm weather too soon, that can present problems," he said. "If we get warm weather and then we get cold weather again, that presents other situations that are difficult for farmers.
They experienced the warm-cold switch in early 2012; Fisher said 2013 will hopefully not be a repeat of last year.