Senator’s Bill Will Provide Critical Preservation Grants To 16 Counties, Including Cumberland and Cape May
TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew today praised the signing of legislation he sponsored that will dedicate critical funding to farmland preservation efforts in 16 counties across the state, including the counties of Cumberland and Cape May.
The measure was included in a four-bill package signed today by Governor Chris Christie at Terhune Orchard in Princeton Township. The Senator’s bill (S-2896) appropriates a combined $39 million to 16 counties for the acquisition of development easements on farmland. The 16 counties will each receive a base grant of $1.5 million. They will also be eligible to compete to receive an additional grant of up to $3 million from a competitive grant fund of $15 million, for a maximum grant award of $4.5 million.
“Ensuring that we maintain a strong agricultural industry is critical to our state’s economy,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “The funding made available through this legislation will provide local officials with the means to move forward with their efforts to preserve farmland, which ultimately will help to preserve the state’s rich tradition of farming and the jobs that are supported by this very important industry.”
The three additional bills (S-2894, S-2895, and S-2897) will provide another $55 million for farmland preservation, planning and administration of the preservation program. Combined, the four bill package will provide more than $90 million to farmland preservation. This funding is part of the first round of farmland preservation monies to be allocated from the $400 million bond issue approved by voters in 2009.
“The signing of this legislation is a victory for the people of New Jersey, who have demonstrated year after year their commitment to our state’s farmland preservation program,” said Van Drew. “With this new round of funding, we will build on our extensive efforts to maintain a robust farming industry that will continue to serve as an economic engine for our state.”
The four bills were approved by the Legislature in June with unanimous support in both houses.