New Jersey Ag News
Seven years since tractorcade (Editorial)
(April 15, 2015) April 1, 2008, was more than April’s Fool’s Day in New Jersey.
It is remembered as the day that New Jersey agriculture flexed its muscle, saved its Department of Agriculture, and in a very real sense tossed its governor out of office.
We are celebrating the day, by recollection.
Who was the governor? He was Jon S. Corzine. ... But who was he?
Well, he was at one time CEO of Goldman Sachs, spent $62 million to win a U.S. Senate seat, brought New Jersey to the brink of fiscal ruin in his sole term as governor, and then ended up implicated in one of the largest scandals in Wall Street history.
It was his notion that to help stall the state’s anticipated bankruptcy, onto which he had plunged it, he would dismantle, get rid of, abolish the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
Its responsibilities, he proposed, could be assumed by the New New Jersey Department of the Environment.
(Talk about a bastardization.)
Inflamed by the Governor’s gall and disrespect, and urged on by a “Save the Garden State” compaign mounted by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, the state’s agricultural community, joined by knowledgeable citizenry, stormed the capital.
An estimated 100 farm vehicles clogged State Street in Trenton and a crowd of 1,000 gathered on the steps into the capitol to hear lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — as well as key state employees disavow Corzine and his plan to rob Peter to pay Paul.
Kevin George, who directs the New Jersey desk for American Farm Publications Inc., covered the Corzine assault and produced a total of eight pages of pictures and text for the following edition of The New Jersey Farmer.
As to the beleaguered and disgraced Gov. Corzine, he dropped his plan to combine the two cabinet departments, but nonetheless decided to seek re-election.
It was no contest. He was soundly beaten by current N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.
Looking back on that April 1 passion play, the New Jersey Farm Bureau commented that it “effectively demonstrated the strong political will of the farming community ... a powerful testament to the determination and capacity for forceful political demonstrations.”
That’s a message that the farm community everywhere — in this instance, think Maryland — where agriculture is being abused by overzealous bureaucrats.
The April 1 events in Trenton seven years ago established that farmers hold some pretty good cards. All they have to do is play them.