Dairy farmers showcase sustainability through MAEAP verification

posted on September 25, 2013 11:11am

The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA), a nearly 100-year-old statewide dairy co-op, has been a proud Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) partner since the program’s inception in 1997.

Pleasant View Dairy, owned by MMPA members and 2013 Michigan State University Dairy Farmers of the Year Bruce and Jennifer Lewis, is one of the numerous Michigan dairy farms that has stepped up to become MAEAP verified.

“We have always been conscious of our farming practices and how the public perceives us, so MAEAP was a wonderful fit. As the program gains more awareness, our neighbors, visitors and those passing by can be assured that we take care of the land, our animals and the environment for not only our future, but theirs as well,” Jennifer says.

Having already achieved cropping system verification, the Lewises are actively pursuing farmstead and livestock verification as well.

When asked about their verification experience, Jennifer reflects, “From the start of working with our technician, the process took less than six months. Sure, we had to make a few changes – we had to calibrate our manure spreaders and irrigation equipment. But we had a wonderful experience working with our MDARD Technician Josh Appleby. He was very easy to work with and simplified the process.”

Since becoming MAEAP verified, Bruce and Jennifer have served as unofficial MAEAP ambassadors, sharing their experiences with other farmers interested in the program. They offer this advice: Communication is the key. Keep in contact with your technician, and plan how you will make positive changes to your operation.

Deemed “well-worth the effort,” the Lewises stand behind their decision to voluntarily participate in MAEAP. With an uncertain future filled with the possibility of increased regulation, they believe electively opting to participate in MAEAP and other stewardship programs will help farmers keep up with the rapid pace of environmental and sustainability-based industry changes.

When it comes down to it, the Lewises’ passion for environmental stewardship and commitment to sharing the positive dairy sustainability story with their neighbors catalyzed the family’s MAEAP verification.

“As caretakers of the land, our third generation family farm has always had the environment, as well as the future viability of our farm, in the forefront of our minds. The fourth generation is now learning and preparing for their future as we all try to leave our farmstead better than we found it,” wraps up Jennifer concludes.

MMPA is a member-owned and operated cooperative serving over 2,000 dairy farm families throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. For more information, visit http://www.mimilk.com &ldqu,o;like” MMPA on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Michigan-MilkProducersAssociation) and “follow” the co-op on Twitter (@MichiganMilk).