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Two of New Jersey agriculture’s more influential annual gatherings are joining forces for the first time to create a formidable showcase of the Garden State’s agrarian advances.

 

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Douglas Fisher, New Jersey's secretary of agriculture, announced the combined convention of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey during the June 7 Eastern Produce Council meeting in Hillsdale, NJ. (Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg)
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey jointly announced the merging of their respective conventions into one large convention and trade show to be held the week of Jan. 16, 2012, at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ.

 

While both groups will conduct separate programs, the combined convention will appeal to New Jersey’s diverse agricultural industry by promoting greater participation and interaction among a wider cross-section of industry members from all sectors.

Held annually since 1914, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has conducted a legally mandated annual convention of the state’s entire agricultural industry. As specified under New Jersey statutes, each year delegates representing all sectors of the industry must gather to elect two members to New Jersey’s State Board of Agriculture, elect farmer-members to the Fish & Game Council, and set agricultural policy for the NJDA through a series of formal resolutions voted on by the delegates.

Founded in 1955, the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey disseminates knowledge of the growing and marketing of vegetables through cooperation with the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension, the New Jersey and U.S. departments of agriculture, and other organizations and committees working for or interested in the vegetable industry in the Garden State.

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher said that the state board determined that a VGANJ proposal to merge the conventions would benefit all sectors of New Jersey agriculture by bringing the policy aspects of the state convention together with the broader educational elements of the VGANJ gathering.

“Our convention is all about hearing the opinions and views of members of New Jersey’s agricultural community to help us best utilize the department’s resources to serve this very important industry,” Mr. Fisher said in a June 6 press release. “We welcome the opportunity to widen the scope of attendees and expand our ability to hold listening sessions. Hopefully, everyone will find the additional seminars and a trade show beneficial in helping them improve their individual operations.”

Joe Marino, president of the growers association, added that combining the conventions also will help the state’s farmers stay abreast of recent developments even in tougher economic times.

“The recent economic climate has made it tough for farm families to expend the money to attend numerous conventions and trade shows typically held during the off-season,” Mr. Marino added in the press release. “We hope that by combining two events into one, convention participants will experience a greater value in attending.”