Department of Agriculture secretary says federal dollars may be in shorter supply in FY13

TRENTON – The Department of Agriculture will continue to be able to provide necessary services under the proposed $19.8 million budget despite no increase in state aid, according to testimony delivered today by New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher before the Assembly Budget Committee.

“With all the challenges that you and the governor face, [the aid] is flat for this year but we’re still able to provide the services we’ve been expected to deliver,” Fisher said. “We’re getting creative with web-based [efforts], and really doing everything we can to make ourselves more efficient.”

But federal dollars may not flow into the state like they did in the past, Fisher said.

“Due to the constrained state budgets of recent years, we have accessed more federal resources to accomplish our mission,” Fisher said. “However, we anticipate that the budget issues that have arisen in Washington will result in fewer federal resources in many areas.”

Fisher also said the department is “getting creative” by utilizing social media for “industry partners and our state’s residents.”

The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the Department of Agriculture calls for $19.8 million, which is the same level as the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The Department of Agriculture anticipates $411.8 million in federal funding for the 2013 budget for “various food and nutrition programs primarily targeting children’s nutritional needs,” according to the budget summary.

For the 2011-2012 school year, the department projects 2,703 school lunch programs serving 123.7 million lunches, and 1,919 school breakfast programs, serving a total of 34.7 million breakfasts.

The state will contribute $5.6 million in aid for the School Lunch program, according to the budget proposal.

Department of Agriculture secretary says federal dollars may be in shorter supply in FY13