Recipients have been farmers who have been actively involved in statewide agricultural organizations and provided leadership in a variety of ways. Recipients have also included agribusiness people who have worked to change the industry through advanced marketing plans or business management tools for the industry. Lastly, recipients include career employees who have been extraordinary in moving the industry forward. The award is presented to the winner at the Society's Annual Gala each spring.
2015 Gold Medallion Award Winner
Peter Furey started his professional career in 1974, after combining an undergraduate academic career at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Washington and Lee University, graduating in 1973 with a degree in economics. He was hired by the Ocean County Board of Freeholders as a planner trainee in the County Planning Department, then became county grantsman, followed by two years as the assistant to the county administrator. For a brief time later, Peter worked on environmental planning issues as the deputy director of the Pinelands Environmental Council.
Peter began his agricultural career with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in 1979 as the project director for the Grassroots Farmland Preservation report. This report led directly to the enactment in 1981 of the Agricultural Retention and Development Act and the Right to Farm Act. That program recently marked a notable milestone in having preserved over 210,000 acres of farmland with over $1.6 billion of state funds since its inception.
Furey joined the New Jersey Farm Bureau staff in 1981 and has served as its executive director since June, 1982. Among his primary responsibilities are the management and direction of daily operations for the association on behalf of its 11,000 members under the supervision of Farm Bureau’s president, officers and directors.
Furey works closely with state legislators, agencies of state/federal government, congressional offices, university and research professionals, agribusiness corporations, new media, local governments, allied trade associations, and member farmers throughout the state. He has played an important role in the passage of numerous pieces of legislation and public policy at the state level, including: the Agriculture Retention Act, the Right to Farm Act, exemptions from water use fees on irrigation water diversions, strengthening of the trespass/vandalism legislation, hiring the first-ever seasonal worker ombudsman as a service to farm employers, enacting the Pinelands compensation formula in 1999 as part of the Garden State Preservation Trust, several property rights protection initiatives (Policy on Equity-state master plan), recruitment of the new use agriculture professor at Rutgers University, enactment of U-Pick liability reform legislation, creation of the first Produce Directory in the state and establishment of the annual ag policy opinion polling with Fairleigh Dickinson’s PublicMind poll.
While at the Farm Bureau, Furey has overseen the growth of its membership from 4,000 to 11,000 members. He helped to design and supervise the implementation of an innovative membership database system and electronic communications with farmers, one of the first systems of its type for any state Farm Bureau in the country. He is the author of the newsletter “This Week in Farm Bureau,” the most widely read farming publication in the state with a weekly circulation of 6,000. Furey also supervised the $1 million renovation of the historically significant West State Street headquarters of Farm Bureau across from the state capitol buildings in Trenton. In 2001, Peter Furey was presented with the citation for Distinguished Service to New Jersey Agriculture by the State Board of Agriculture.
Peter’s long tenure at the state Farm Bureau has enabled him to establish fruitful relationships with other farming leaders in the Farm Bureau organization across the country. He served as the recording secretary for a peer review committee organized by the incoming American Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman in 2000 for the nation’s largest general farm organization. This task was repeated five years later for a follow-up review comprised of a selection of other state Farm Bureau administrators. In 2012, Peter chaired an ad hoc committee of ten state Farm Bureau seasonal labor specialists on the topic of immigration reform for agriculture, the product from which led directly to a bill enacted by the U.S. Senate in June, 2013. He is now the longest tenured state Farm Bureau administrator for the 12-state Northeast region.
In 1995, Furey received a John J. McCoy Fellowship from the American Council on Germany for the study of agriculture. This four-week study tour in the Rhineland-Phalz region led to an ongoing interest in European and international agriculture, one result of which was a tour four years later of metropolitan produce auctions in Holland, Belgium and Germany for a team with ex-Ag Secretary Art Brown. He participated as a New Jersey agriculture representative on other farm trade missions to Israel, Brazil and, more recently, China.
A resident of Moorestown (Burlington County), NJ since 1980, Peter and his wife Kristine have three adult children: Colleen, Dennis and Michael. During the past two years, Colleen and husband Adam Bowman have made Peter and Kris grandparents twice with the birth of grandson Henry James and granddaughter Charlotte Anne.
Past Gold Medallion Recipients