If you’re a farmer in New Jersey, it’s illegal to sell firewood at your farm’s retail business unless you grew the tree on your property. Now, this antiquated law, still on the books and being enforced by state officials, is being challenged.
New Jersey Assemblyman Hal Wirths and Parker Space have introduced a new bill seeking to end the archaic state law. Under the new law, farmers will be able to buy firewood wholesale and retail it at their farms just like any other business in New Jersey can do.
The Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that protects farmers’ rights to sell firewood obtained from another property.
“Farming has evolved through the years, and farmers have had to adapt to those changes by expanding their sources of income,” Space (R-Sussex) said. “Penalizing farmers for selling firewood regardless of whether they grew the trees themselves is ludicrous. Now that enforcement officials are imposing lumberyard regulations on these family farms, we need to clarify that law.”
According to Parker and Space, a Mount Olive zoning officer cited a local farmer for selling firewood hewed on another property. The officer claimed selling the wood made the farm a logging operation and lumberyard, even though the multigenerational farm had done so without incident for years.
“Farmers need to diversify their income streams just to stay afloat, and because the trees were grown somewhere else, the government is going to penalize them,” Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “As I’ve said before, we should not be doing anything to make an already challenging job more difficult.”
The bill would need to eventually be signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy to be enacted.