Why Does New Jersey Need Farms?

urban farm nj

At work today I noticed an interesting blast fax on our fax machine. “New Jerseyans Support Farming Initiatives” read the headline. It was from Farleigh Dickinson University’s Public Mind Poll and it was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

And according to this poll, 80 percent of New Jersey residents “support the continuation of public funding for the preservation of … farmland.”

Yes, you read that right. Public funding for preservation of farmland. Market forces be damned!

The reason? You guessed it. Buy Local!

According the poll, 77 percent of New Jerseyans say “they or a family member have purchased locally grown produce at a farm stand or farmer’s market in the past 3 months.”

To New Jerseyans, what does “local” mean? The poll tells us. 44 percent say anywhere grown in the state should qualify, while 17 percent think it should be within 30 miles of the store, and 13 percent think it should be within 50 miles. The remaining 24 percent were a little more liberal with their definition of what truly counts as “local.”

The poll went even further, asking whether New Jerseyans would be willing to pay extra for locally grown produce. Amazingly, 66 percent said they “would be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to pay 10% extra” while 56 percent would be “‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ willing to pay 25 percent extra.”

New Jersey Farm Bureau President Rick Suydam closes the blast fax with this gem: “We always believed that New Jerseyans understood the importance farming has in the state and the collective results from this survey confirm that our residents fully support farmers and agriculture in the great Garden State.”

If it were true that residents “fully support” New Jersey farmers by choice, they wouldn’t need the public funding.bsig

Update: A friend writes:

New Jersey also redefined what it considers “farmland” in the last year or so to increase their tax base and to stop suburbanites from selling tomatoes to their neighbors to claim tax breaks. (Farmland is taxed at a very low rate, much lower than homes or businesses.) They’re playing both sides of the fight

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