NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Promoting public awareness of environmentally friendly horse farms and sustainability of agriculture are the two primary objectives of the new and innovative New Jersey Equine Environmental Stewardship Program. Included in the program is the Gold Medal Horse Farm award. The award and overall program gives recognition to outstanding equine farms for their dedication to environmental sustainability and management. It also underscores the efforts of the New Jersey equine industry to maintain the beauty of the Garden State. The program is a collaborative initiative by the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University (NJAES), the Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA).
The program is open to all New Jersey horse farms. In order to apply, it is mandatory that the farm already have an Animal Waste Management Plan and/or Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan in place. Beyond the two plans, awards are based on water quality, soil erosion, stream and water management, sanitation, and pasture, feed, and manure management. The overall aesthetics of the farm will also be taken into consideration. After a thorough application and review process, four – five farms will be selected annually to earn the distinct honor of being recognized as a Gold Medal Horse Farm.
“It is imperative for the equine community and greater New Jersey population to know that their neighborhood horse farm is strategically implementing environmental sustainability measures,” said Michael Westendorf, associate extension specialist in Animal Sciences for Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJAES. “Not only do we want to encourage and reward horse farms for developing best management practices tailored specifically to their operation, we also want the community to be made aware of their efforts as well. The New Jersey Equine Environmental Stewardship Program is the perfect initiative to achieve both goals.”
Applications are now being accepted and must be postmarked by June 15, 2013. The final award results will be announced during the Equine Science Center’s annual Equine Science Update in mid-November. Additional information, including an application, fact sheet, and survey, can be found on the Equine Science Center’s website (esc.rutgers.edu).