People have no idea how picturesque and functional southern New Jersey is and has been for a long time. Salem County is one of the best-kept secrets in Jersey. Sprawling farms, wooded drives, and miles of countryside.

After leaving a speech in Pennsylvania at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference (full of ex-pats who escaped NJ!),

we headed south to Tice Farms in Elmer.

What a great town and farm! People from all over the area converged on Tice farms to learn about the process of getting food from seed planting to the store. It was a great day, complete with beautiful weather and friendly people.

Yes, they let me lead the bull around the grounds. Actually, I was asked to ride the bull. As you can see, I was not in the appropriate bull-riding attire!

A huge thank you to Alison for arranging the visit and to Barry and Joanne who own Tice Farms for the hospitality. A great family business in New Jersey providing quality products to our community.

We need to do more to protect and strengthen our farming community in New Jersey. Instead of wasting taxpayer money on so-called "open space" let's reinvest in farming and expand the use of tillable land.

There are plenty of spaces that you can't farm on, those are perfect for expanding the warehouse development which is huge to our business economy. But where we have land that is perfect for growing food, let's create opportunities for towns and communities to reclaim some of the open space and make it work as a food and revenue source.

Plus, all family farms that are owner-occupied should enjoy the same tax break on the homestead as they get on the farm acres. Any politician seeking your vote and donations should spend some time visiting our great farms across the state to understand first-hand what we need to do to protect and empower this critical NJ resource.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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