Bill Nardelli, president and fourth-generation owner of Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros., said he loves his home state just as it is and doesn’t want to see it change.

Peter Bylone, general manager for the Vineland (N.J.) Cooperative Produce Auction Association, said it’s important to preserve the state for future generations.

Those are just two of the reasons New Jersey grower-shippers, led by the Trenton-based New Jersey Farm Bureau, are lobbying to continue funding for open space and farmland preservation through a $400 million bond issue before voters Nov. 3.

The New Jersey Farm Bureau is encouraging members to vote in favor of the Green Acres, Water Supply and Floodplain Protection and Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2009.

New Jersey has 4.75 million acres, 17% of which are farmland, according to the farm bureau. Much of the state’s available land is ripe for development, whether for industrial parks, shopping malls or housing developments, the farm group warns.

The Garden State, according to the farm bureau, is the country’s second-largest grower of blueberries and nursery plants, the third-largest grower of cranberries, and the fourth-largest grower of peaches, peppers and lettuce. The state’s agriculture industry generates about $1 billion.

“Nobody wants to hear that (a bond issue) just benefits one group,” Nardelli said. “But with farmland preservation, you’re saving the complexion of New Jersey and state as we know it.

“There’s a lot of promotion here of local grown,” he said. “People really relate to it, they like their local farmer, get a good feeling of safety. In order to preserve that, we need to preserve our fields.”

Bylone said he had no idea whether the bond issue will pass.

“Who knows how a voter feels?” he said. “I feel a lot of people want to see a lot of open farm space in the state. I feel it’d be a good thing and that voters will support it.”

According to the bureau, the program has protected 1.2 million acres of open space, preserved 1,810 farms and 176,435 acres of farmland and preserved 532 historic sites.