Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP)
Environmental Assurance Program for Michigan Farms
Michigan 's Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is another way the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan's agriculture industry is proactively and comprehensively addressing environmental concerns. This program is the state's latest tool to assist in the implementation of agricultural pollution prevention practices on farms.
MAEAP is a voluntary, pro-active program designed by a coalition of farmers, agricultural commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups to reduce producers' legal and environmental risks. It teaches effective land stewardship practices that comply with state and federal regulations and shows producers how to identify and prevent agricultural pollution risks on their farms. Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 4212, now Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2011, codify the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program into law, a move called for by Snyder in his Jan. 19 State of the State address. MAEAP was created in 1998 by a coalition of agricultural, environmental and conservation groups to assist farmers in taking a voluntary, proactive approach to reducing agricultural pollution while keeping their business operations sustainable.
"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."
Through MAEAP, Michigan farmers and agricultural stakeholders have taken a proactive approach to guarantee farms are both sustainable and environmentally-friendly. As one of the most agriculturally diverse states, the one-size-fits-all approach to environmental protection simply does not work on all Michigan farms. MAEAP effectively overcomes this challenge by using a systems approach including a site and crop specific focus that involves education, risk assessments and third party audit inspections to address all soil and water resource concerns.
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.
Within each system there are three phases that must be completed in order to become verified. These phases are:
1. Education involves farmer attendance at a qualified MAEAP educational session. Held across the state, these sessions introduce farmers to MAEAP and update them on new and emerging regulations and opportunities affecting agriculture.
2. On-farm risk assessment focuses on evaluating environmental risks and devising farm-specific and economically viable solutions. Each MAEAP system implements a unique risk assessment tool developed to address the environmental impacts of that system
3. Third-party verification is where MDARD verifies the farm after the requirements of Phase 1 and 2 are met, the State's Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices ( GAAMPs ) are being followed, and the farm has implemented practices specific to system requirements.
When verification requirements are successfully met, producers receive recognition for their accomplishments and access to incentives. With an on-going commitment to use environmentally sound management practices, and to maintain MAEAP Verification, producers must request a MDARD visit every three years.
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