TRENTON, N.J. – NJ Keep It Green today thanked the Garden State Preservation Trust for approving $79.5 million in support of farmland preservation throughout the state. This includes the last of the funds that were set aside through a 2009 voter-approved bond referendum, which allocated $400 million for open space, farmland and historic preservation projects across New Jersey.
“New Jersey’s farmland preservation program is critical to supporting our agriculture industry and way of life here in the Garden State,” said Tom Gilbert, chairman of NJ Keep It Green.”This funding, made possible by the 2009 bond referendum, will continue the state’s strong commitment to preserving family farms to protect our quality of life and provide local, Jersey Fresh food for decades to come.”
Food and agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry. In 2011, the state’s 10,300 farms generated $1.1 billion, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
“Protecting farmland is vitally important to the success of our economy,” said Kelly Mooij, NJ Keep It Green coordinator. “Additionally, open space and farmland preservation help control and mitigate flooding, which is becoming an increasing threat given the more frequent occurrence of superstorms like Hurricane Sandy.”
Earlier this year the farmland preservation program reached an important milestone when New Jersey’s 200,000th acre of farmland was preserved. To date, more than 2,100 farms were permanently protected. Despite this success, an additional 350,000 acres of farmland still need to be preserved to maintain a viable agricultural industry.
“Now that the last of the preservation funds have been fully allocated, action is needed to ensure preservation efforts can continue next year and beyond,” Gilbert said. “NJ Keep It Green looks forward to working with Governor Christie and legislative leaders to develop a new, bipartisan plan that will provide sustainable funding for open space farmland, and historic preservation projects for years to come.”
According to a 2012 poll, 75 percent of New Jersey voters would support dedicating $200 million annually for 30 years to preserve our open space, farms, and historic sites, and to protect our water supply and flood-prone areas. This would account for less than one percent of the state’s annual budget.
About NJ Keep It Green NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 170 park and conservation advocates working to create a long-term, dedicated source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey’s natural areas, waterways, parks, farmland and historic sites. NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass statewide ballot measures in 2006, 2007, and 2009 generating $600 million for state open space, farmland and historic preservation programs. For more information, visit www.njkeepitgreen.org.