Jun-23-10 Blueberry Picking Season Kicks Off Agricultural Enforcement Initiatives
HAMMONTON, June 23, 2010 – The Garden State lives up to its nickname, particularly at this time of year.
New Jersey is the original home of commercial blueberry production and still ranks second in the nation for producing blueberries. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 53 million pounds of blueberries with a value of $65.3 million were produced in New Jersey last year.
For the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD), the blueberry season also is a time for increased vigilance and outreach efforts. During the picking seasons, the Department increases farm inspections and cooperative efforts with the U.S. Department of Labor, farmers and community organizations to ensure that the laws protecting workers who pick New Jersey’s crops are being enforced fairly and that agricultural employers are aware of their responsibilities.
During this blueberry picking season, LWD will have six inspectors visiting farms to see that proper working conditions are maintained, that workers are properly paid and that New Jersey’s laws are being obeyed.
“During the picking season, we know it is important to be actively involved and to be visible on the job sites so that workplace issues can be quickly resolved,” said LWD Commissioner Harold J. Wirths. “By working cooperatively with the U.S. Labor Department, community organizations, and agricultural employers, we can provide outreach to employers and make sure that workers are treated and paid properly.”
Commissioner Wirths toured the fields and facilities of Atlantic Blueberry, Inc. in Hammonton, to see the harvesting operations currently underway. Atlantic Blueberry, Inc. routinely passes inspections by LWD and USDOL staff
Agricultural workers and employers with questions about workplace laws can contact LWD at (609) 984-3004 or (609) 633-6295.