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MDARD: Join Us in Celebrating World Soil Day Today

LANSING, MI- Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) celebrates World Soil Day to recognize and honor the critical role healthy soil plays in feeding our families, supporting our natural resources and its place as a vital and sustainable agricultural and natural resource. 

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as the first World Soil Day. World Soil Day has been vital to advocate for sustainable soil management resources. All around the world, people use the day to inform and inspire. And there’s a different theme to focus on each year. It reminds us to appreciate this incredible natural resource — the source of our food, the anchor of ecosystems, and that’s merely scratching the surface.

This year’s theme, Where Food Begins, recognizes the importance of soil fertility; the ability to sustain plant growth by providing plants with key nutrients to grow.  Over the last 70 years, globally, food has loss a significant number of vitamins and nutrients, which has led to low crop yield and crop failure. MDARD is working with producers to protect soil fertility and increase yield by implementing conservation practices that reduce nutrient loss from our soil.

“The nutrients found in our soil are an important resource for our state’s 20 million acres of forestland and more than 300 agricultural commodities grown commercially in Michigan,” said Gary McDowell, MDARD Director. “Producers and landowners alike are fundamental too protecting soil fertility and reducing nutrient loss by participating in many of our programs supporting healthy soil, carbon sequestration, water quality, and wildlife protection.”

MDARD and its partners offer a variety of avenues to protect and support the long-term health and vitality of Michigan’s soil and support sustainable agriculture. These programs include

Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program is a voluntary program aimed at helping producers protect the environment by implementing conservation practices on their land. To participate, landowners work together with their local conservation district to identify steps they can take to prevent pollution.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a partnership between the state of Michigan, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, local conservation districts, and others to implement voluntary conservation practices in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Lake Macatawa, and Saginaw Bay watersheds. Producers who participate are reimbursed up to half of the costs to install conservation practices. Landowners interested in applying for CREP should contact their local conservation district or USDA’s Service Center.

Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program preserves farmland from being developed for non-agricultural uses. Participating landowners may be entitled to receive a Michigan income tax credit for property tax more than 3.5 percent of total household income and exempt from some special assessments.

Qualified Forest Program encourages landowners to manage their forestland for wildlife enhancement, commercial harvest, and natural resource protection. Landowners who participate receive a property tax exemption.

For more information on World Soil Day, visit,

For more information on MDARD’s programs, visit,