NJ’s agriculture sector still a major economic player
New Jersey agriculture, in all of its forms, continues to be an integral part of the state's economy -- now more than ever.
Agriculture contributes almost $13 billion to New Jersey's economy and is responsible for well over 50,000 jobs statewide. Douglas Fisher, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, agrees that agriculture and farming is big business.
"When you talk about it as a big business, and it is, it is also for the most part entirely family farms and farming operations," Fisher said. "I think the people in the Garden State really appreciate that fact."
There are just over 9,000 farms in New Jersey at the moment, and "they can range from five acres to 1,000 acres," according to Fisher. That number has declined from the last census, but the average farm size went up. And in terms of the output of those farms, that did not go down; rather, it went up.
Fisher also emphasized that so-called "agrifood" and food processing, which counts $7 billion in direct sales alone, are very large parts of the state's economy.
Besides the direct economic engagement, there are many satellite businesses that benefit and profit from New Jersey's agriculture.
"We are now just heading into the height of the season," Fisher said. "Hopefully, everybody will get out there and really enjoy Jersey Fresh and all of our agricultural bounty of our state. It is really a great time for buying fresh fruits, produce, poultry, eggs. It is all here, right now."