Food and Agriculture

Food and Agriculture are the products of farming as well as the process of food production. Adequate food is one of the most fundamental requirements for living. This section covers the food consumption of NJ residents and the production of crops, livestock, and poultry in New Jersey. 

National Rankings provide data on how New Jersey compares to other states on measures of Food and Agriculture.

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Food and Agricultural data within New Jersey and its impact on life in the State as well as the economy.


National Rankings compared to other states, New Jersey ranks...


• 18th in SNAP Participation

April 4, 2014.  In FY 2013, New Jersey ranked 18th in the number of households participating in the federal SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps).  According to the US Department of Agriculture, New Jersey had 432,270 households participating, an increase of 78% from 2009.  The first place state was Florida, with more than 1.9 million households participating. 

• 24th in Number of Farmworkers per Thousand

April 1, 2014. With .44 farmworkers per thousand jobs, New Jersey ranked 24th in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 1,680 farmworkers and laborers working in crops, nurseries and greenhouses, with an annual mean wage of $24,340.  These employment estimates do not include self-employed workers.

 10th in Foodborne Illnesses

March 14, 2014.  Since the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in January 2011, there have been 61 reported illnesses from multistate foodborne outbreaks in New Jersey according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Texas leads the nation with 353 reported illnesses.

• 8th Lowest in Obesity Rate

December 8, 2013.  According to America's Health Rankings, in the past ten years, obesity increased from 19.6 percent to 24.6 percent of the population, the 8th lowest rate in the U.S. in 2012. Obesity in this research is indicated by a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater.  Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing an estimated 200,000 deaths annually.  New Jersey ranked 4th lowest in the 2012 report.

• 7th Lowest in Food Hardship among Households with Children

September, 2013. Between 2008 and 2012, the Food Research and Action Center estimates that an average of 19.5% of New Jersey households with children faced food hardship.  Food hardship is defined as households that self-report in a Gallop Poll they have faced times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy food needed by their family.  This placed the state behind just a half dozen states with less food hardship.  The best state was North Dakota, with just 14.3% of households reporting food hardship. The highest level of food hardship was 31.5% in Mississippi. 

5th to last in Wildlife Restoration Funding

March 18, 2013.  New Jersey received $5.3 million in the 2013 Wildlife Restoration apportionment total, the fifth smallest amount of U.S. states. Texas received the most with $24 million, and Rhode Island and Delaware received the least, $3.1 million each according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

• Best Accessibility to Affordable Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

December, 2011. With a rate of difficulty for accessing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables of 6.5, New Jersey had the lowest rate of all states from 2008-2010 according to the Food and Research Action Center.

• 24th Lowest in the Amount of Fraud in SNAP Programs

January, 2013.  The USDA’s 2012 report on SNAP activity reveals that there was $110, 151 in SNAP-related fraud in FY 2012 in New Jersey, this was the 24th lowest amount in the U.S.  Michigan had the most SNAP-related fraud with $8.8 million.

• “D” on State Report Card for Reported Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

January, 2011.  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, New Jersey ranked in the bottom half of states in terms of number of foodborne illnesses per million reported to  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1998 to 2007. New Jersey’s state and local health departments reported 132 outbreaks which resulted in 2,636 total Illnesses, 78 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.  Of the reported outbreaks, 55 were solved.

• 11th in Cost of Hunger

October, 2011.  The cost of hunger in New Jersey in 2010 was $3.49 billion; this includes lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed. This cost increased by 36 percent from 2007 according to the Center for American Progress.



State and Local Reports

The Many Faces of New Jersey Agriculture: Annual Report and Agriculture Statistics

2011 was a challenging year marked by severe weather patterns, searing heat, damaging floods and hail storms. This Report by the NJ Department of Agriculture outlines its actions protecting the public and natural resources of New Jersey, and facilitating a bridge between its people, land and water.

  - Hurricane Irene and Subsequent Flooding

  - Federal Disaster Declaration

  - Hunger Relief

  - Online Agricultural Photo Database

  - State Agricultural Convention and Vegetable Growers Convention

  - NJ Agricultural Brands

Additional Reports

Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, the NJ Food For Thought School Breakfast Campaign, Food for Thought: 2nd Annual New Jersey School Breakfast Report, October 2012.

Chris Sturm and Nicole Heater, Preserving Land through Compact Growth: Case Studies of Noncontiguous Clustering in New Jersey, NJ Future, 2012. 

Brian J. Schilling, et al., Evaluating Changes in the Eligibility Provisions for Farmland Assessment in New Jersey, Food Policy Institute, Rutgers, 2008.

Brian J. Schilling, et al., The New Jersey Equine Industry, 2007: Economic Impact, Food Policy Institute, Rutgers, 2007.

Brian J. Schilling, et al., The Economic Impact of Agritourism in New Jersey: A 2006 Assessment, Food Policy Institute, Rutgers, 2007.



Data from the NJ DataBank may be used with the following acknowledgement:

Source: NJ DataBank (, a project of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Campus at Newark