TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew that would allow voluntary contributions to the Jersey Fresh program to be made by taxpayers through their gross income tax returns was signed into law today by the Governor.
The new law, S-2457, would establish a fund for the Jersey Fresh Program to accept the gross income tax return contribution made by those who wish to donate portions of their tax return to help create an additional funding source for advertising, promotional and quality grading program activities under the Jersey Fresh Program. The fund would begin receiving contributions for their first taxable year beginning after the enactment of the bill. The law would direct the Legislature to annually appropriate the funds to the Department of Agriculture.
“The agricultural sector is of vital importance to our state. It helps provide locally grown products to our residents and creates employment opportunities, while also contributing to the growth of our overall economy,” said Senator Van Drew. “We are proud to promote our farmers and the high quality products they produce. This law will give New Jersey residents the ability to support the Jersey Fresh program through voluntary contributions and support its continued success in our state.”
The Department of Agriculture created the Jersey Fresh Program in 1984, to distinguish the high quality of New Jersey produced fruits and vegetables from others in the marketplace. At the time it was the first state agricultural branding program in the country.
Advertising and promotional materials are used to inform consumers about the availability of locally grown products. The new law would define “Jersey Fresh” to include Jersey Grown for nursery crops, Jersey Seafood for aquaculture and wild-caught fish and shellfish, Jersey Equine for equine livestock, and Made with Jersey Fresh for processed food made with New Jersey sourced agricultural products.
According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, food and agriculture are New Jersey’s third largest industry. As of 2015, the state has 9,100 farms covering 715,000 acres. Sales generated in 2014 totaled $1.02 billion.
This law applies to taxable years beginning January 1, 2018.