Impacts of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program

Animal Manure Management November 06, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

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Abstract

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is a holistic approach to environmental protection. It helps farmers evaluate their entire operation, regardless of size or commodity, and make sustainable management decisions balancing society’s needs, the environment, and economics. MAEAP is a partnership effort that aims to protect natural resources and build positive communities by working with farmers on environmentally responsible agricultural production practices.

To become MAEAP verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps: educational seminars, an on-farm risk assessment, and development and implementation of an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) conducts an on-farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, including the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs). MAEAP benefits Michigan by helping to protect the Great Lakes by using proven scientific standards to improve air, water, and soil quality. Annual phosphorus reduction through MAEAP is over 340,451 pounds per year which is enough to grow almost 85,104 tons of algae in lakes and streams.  Farming is an environmentally intense practice and the MAEAP-verification process ensures farmers are making choices that balance production and environmental demands. The measures aimed at protecting air, soil, water, and other environmental factors mean that MAEAP-verified farmers are committed to utilizing farming practices that protect Michigan’s natural resources.

Purpose

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is an innovative, proactive program that assists farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. MAEAP is a collaborative effort of farmers, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, universities, conservation districts, conservation groups and state and federal agencies. MAEAP teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and work to comply with state and federal environmental regulations. Farmers who successfully complete the three phases of a MAEAP system (Farmstead, Cropping or Livestock) are rewarded by becoming verified in that system.

What Did We Do?

To become MAEAP-verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps: educational seminars, a thorough on-farm risk assessment, and development and implementation of an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) conducts an on-farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, including the Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices. To retain MAEAP verification, a farm must repeat all three steps including MDARD inspection every three years.

Local MAEAP farm verified in the Cropping System

What Have We Learned?

The MAEAP program is positively influencing Michigan producers and the agriculture industry. Annually, an average of 5,000 Michigan farmers attend an educational session geared toward environmental stewardship and MAEAP verification. To date, over 10,000 farms are participating with over 1,500 MAEAP verifications. On a yearly basis, over $1.2 million is spent for practice implementation by producers working towards MAEAP verification. In 2012; the sediment reduced on MAEAP-verified farms could have filled 28,642 dump trucks (10 yards each), the phosphorus reduced on MAEAP farms could have grown 138,056 tons of algae in surface waters, and the nitrogen reduced on MAEAP farms could have grown 45,515 tons of algae in surface waters.

 

An example of the partnership between MAEAP and Michigan Farm Bureau

Future Plans

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has taken a vested interest in the value of the MAEAP program. In March of 2011, Governor Snyder signed Public Acts 1 and 2 which codify MAEAP into law. This provides incentives and structure for the MAEAP program. It is a goal of Governor Snyder’s to have 5,000 farms MAEAP-verified by 2015. Most importantly, through forward thinking MAEAP strives to connect farms and communities, ensure emergency preparedness and protect natural resources.

Authors

Jan Wilford, Program Manager, Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development – Environmental Stewardship Division,    wilfordj9@michigan.gov

Shelby Bollwahn, MAEAP Technician – Hillsdale Conservation District

shelby.bollwahn@mi.nacdnet.net

Additional Information

www.maeap.org – MAEAP Website

http://michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-1567_1599_25432---,00.html – MDARD MAEAP Website

http://www.facebook.com/mimaeap - MAEAP Facebook Page

Acknowledgements

MDARD MAEAP Program Office Communications Department

Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Association of Conservation Districts

Hillsdale County Farm Bureau

Hillsdale Conservation District

Handout version of the poster (8.5 x 11; pdf format)

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.