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MAEAP Grows in Leaps and Bounds in 2011

Posted on 2011-12-15EST2:37PM

See the Michigan Farm News Partner Highlight article

This year has been an incredible year for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). In 2011, MAEAP has grown in leaps and bounds, reaching several important landmarks in its 12-year history.

On March 8, newly-elected Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Acts 1 and 2, the first legislation of his new administration, establishing MAEAP in law – a successful, voluntary pollution prevention program that helps Michigan farmers maintain their economic viability while being environmentally responsible.

"Our journey to the ‘New Michigan' requires that government, industry and stakeholder groups work together toward common goals," Snyder said.  "MAEAP has proved to be an excellent example of that cooperation.  Putting this program into statute secures its place as a model for addressing environmental challenges in a way that also allows our agriculture-based businesses to expand.  I am pleased that my first bill signings recognize the critical importance of Michigan agriculture as well as our need to be sound stewards of the environment.  The fact that the Legislature acted on these bills so promptly also demonstrates its commitment to the agriculture industry and our shared resources."

Public Acts 1 and 2 began as Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 4212, sponsored by Senator Joe Hune and Representative Kevin Daley, respectively.

Immediately, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Keith Creagh, established the MAEAP Advisory Council (AC) on March 31 comprised of individuals from across the spectrum of agriculture and the environment to advice on the implementation of MAEAP, including recommendations on MAEAP standards and protocols for farm verification.

Throughout the year, the Council met to develop its recommendations, while also establishing subcommittees and workgroups. That action was followed by a major effort to ramp up public outreach and marketing and most importantly focus efforts on the local level to educate farmers on the many benefits of MAEAP. 

Conservation Districts are able to provide farmers with technical support through Phase 1 educational requirements, farm risk assessments, and emergency planning. Farmers can use the information gathered through this process to work with Conservation District staff to address identified risks and prepare for the final step of MAEAP verification.

“MAEAP is a perfect example of government extending a hand, assisting farmers to better protect our natural resources and Conservation Districts are proud to deliver this proactive program at the local level to Michigan's farmers," said Mike Lawless, President, Michigan Association of Conservation Districts.

Michigan Conservation Districts took the lead locally, doing what they do best:  working one on one within their communities to provide the education and assistance to move farmers toward the goal of MAEAP verification.

Reaching this 1,000 verification milestone tops off a year of significant accomplishments for the program. In the fall, Lee Sesquicentennial Farm, in Shiawassee County, was recognized as the 1000th MAEAP verification.  Lee Farms is verified in the Farming, Cropping and Livestock Systems for implementing appropriate pollution prevention practices. 

What a year for MAEAP; just think what we will be able to accomplish in the future!   

  • Oct. 1997 - Michigan Agricultural Pollution Prevention (AgP2) Strategy
  • 1998 - MAEAP Conceptualization
  • Dec. 1999 - MAEAP By-Laws adopted
  • 2000 - First MAEAP co-chairs: Scott Piggott (MFB) & Bob von Bernuth (MSU)
  • June 2000 - CNMP Outline Developed
  • Dec. 2000 - Partnership Agreement Signed
  • Spring 2001 - Livestock System PILOT
  • 2001 - First Round of Phase 1 meetings
  • March 2002 - First Livestock System Verification: Pfander Farm, Calhoun County
  • Oct. 2002 - CAFO Alternative Permitting Approach (ECOS Agreement) signed
  • March 2003 - First Agriculture's Conference on the Environment
  • Sept. 2003 - First Farmstead System Verification: Holcomb Creek Dairy, Alpena County
  • Fall 2004 - Progressive Planning for Small & Medium Livestock Farms Begins
  • March 10, 2005 - Agriculture's Conference on the Environment
  • April 2005 - First Cropping System Verification: Holcomb Creek Dairy, Alpena County
  • March 2006 - First Orchard/Small Fruit Verification: Coulter Farms, Oceana County
  • Oct. 2006 - First Nursery/Christmas Tree Verification: Trim Pines Farm, Inc., Genesee County
  • Jan. 2007 - Agriculture's Conference on the Environment
  • May 2008 - First Greenhouse Verification: Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouse, Kalamazoo County
  • Jan. 2009 - Agriculture's Conference on the Environment
  • June 2009 - Grape-A-Syst
  • March 2010 - Livestock-A-Syst
  • January 2011 – Agriculture’s Conference on the Environment
  • March 8, 2011 – Public Acts 1 and 2 Signed
  • March 21, 2011 – Director Creagh appoints MAEAP Advisory Council
  • October 17, 2011 – MAEAP celebrates 1000 verifications

Option for another side bar:

The program encompasses three systems designed to help producers evaluate the environmental risks of their operation. Each system -- Livestock, Farmstead and Cropping -- examines a different aspect of a farm, as each has a different environmental impact. Through each phase, producers will develop and implement economically feasible, effective and environmentally sound pollution prevention practices.

·          The Livestock System primarily focuses on environmental issues related to livestock activities, including manure handling, storage and filed application, as well as conservation practices to protect water and prevent soil erosion. The system concentrates on production and conservation practice, equipment, structures and management activities associated with animal production.

·          The Farmstead System addresses environmental risks of the entire farmstead, from safe fuel handling to the proper storage of fertilizers and pesticides. It focuses on protecting surface and groundwater. It is the one MAEAP system which is applicable to every size and kind of operation.

·          The Cropping System focuses on environmental issues related to cropping activities, such as irrigation and water use, soil conservation, and nutrient and pest management. The system has components focused on environmental issues related to manage diverse commodities.