Hello, I am a landscape contractor located in NJ. Recently the senate introduced Senate No. 2302 which is a proposal to license and register landscape professionals in the state of NJ. Under the new proposal, a review board within the NJ Department of Agriculture will perform such duties as review the qualifications of applicants and establish standards for examination. I am writing this letter in regard to the proposed involvement of the NJDA in this proposal. As mentioned, I am a landscape contractor in the state of NJ. Though the title suggests that I do such things as install mulch, trees, shrubs, and lawns, I primarily do not. The main focus of my business is what is called hardscaping. That includes the installation of brick paving stone walks, patios, and driveways. It also includes the installation of wood structures such as gazebos, sheds and trellis, and includes the installation of retaining walls, front entrance stoops, and outdoor kitchens. According to the landscape license proposal, any one performing the tasks I mentioned above would be considered a landscape professional and be subject to the terms and conditions of the new proposal. This would therefore include far more people than just landscapers. This would also include such professionals as paving companies, masons who perform outdoor work, and deck builders. Therefore, according to this proposal, the NJDA would now be responsible for reviewing qualifications and establishing examination standards for business such as masons, driveway installers, deck builders, and landscape contractors. This brings me to my concern. Is it within the mission of the NJDA to perform such duties? As you may know, there are existing requirements for landscape contractors to be in compliance with Department of Agriculture policies regarding plant dealers (including N.J.S.A. 4:7-21. and N.J.A.C. 2:18.). This is in regard to the safety of nursery stock and clearly falls under the mission of the NJDA. What is not clear, however, is how the proper installation of an outdoor kitchen, or a asphalt drive, or a gazebo, would fall under the mission of the NJDA. There is no previous legislature that gives the NJDA such authority or in which it has acted in such manor. The NJDA should not be involved in this proposed bill for two reasons: First, the bill proposes that the NJDA take on a task that is not within the mission of the NJDA. Though parts of the landscape industry may fall within the realm of the NJDA, the core of the business does not. The process and licensing of landscape professionals should fall upon other existing state regulatory agencies such as the Division of Code and Standards, the Department of Consumer Affairs, or the Department of Community Affairs. Second, at this current economic time, the NJDA has no resources or budget to afford taking on the task of policing and regulating the landscape industry. Due to budget cuts, the NJDA recently eliminated its program to provide deer fencing to farmers. Due to budget cuts, free beekeeping equipment can not be given to graduates of Rutgers bee keeping program. On top of that, the NJDA is already finding it difficult to sustain its existing programs, such as food inspections and school lunch programs. These are all programs that are essential and represent the true mission of the NJDA. Yet, with this proposed bill, the NJDA is about to take on a yet another financial burden that does not even fall within its primary mission. The proposed senate No. 2302 landscape licensing bill should not involve the NJDA in its current form. This bill must be stopped before it becomes law and not only violates the mission of the NJDA, but also wastes valuable resources and time the NJDA does not have to give. I am asking all NJ landscapers, masons, and any other building profession who read this letter to oppose senate No. 2302 by contacting their local legislature or if you are out of state, NJ's legislature, and stop the bill from progressing any farther in the state legislature than it already has.