For immediate release: March 21, 2019
Media contact: Jessy Sielski, 517-284-5725
LANSING – Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) celebrated its 5,000th verification with an event at the Lansing Center.
More than 500 farmers, commodity representatives, and agriculture and conservation organizations gathered to celebrate MAEAP’s achievement with exhibit booths, guest speakers, and a presentation of awards.
Pictured (left to right) Chief Matt Lohr, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Director Gary McDowell, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Participants at the MAEAP 5,000th Verification Celebration stop at the MAEAP booth.
“The MAEAP 5,000th Verification Celebration is an opportunity for us to honor and celebrate all our partners, farmers, and the industry who developed and implemented MAEAP,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “MAEAP is a voluntary, environmental program that helps farmers protect our water and natural resources. Producers are showing their communities every day how much they care.”
“The fact that many of our Farm Bureau members are verified in one or more MAEAP systems demonstrates the value our organization places on the unrivaled voluntary program MAEAP has become,” said Carl Bednarski, President of Michigan Farm Bureau. “Personally, it enabled our family to proactively identify issues on the farm we may not otherwise have realized. MAEAP helps us balance profitability with responsible environmental stewardship.”
During the celebration, participants heard a special video message from Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauding participants for their great work.
“I applaud you for your hard work and dedication to building a legacy of sustainability. It’s our goal to continue that legacy through MAEAP and encourage more farmers to participate in the program,” said Governor Whitmer.
Participants also heard from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matt Lohr.
“This program is an excellent model for other states that are working toward implementing a program to protect their land and water,” said Lohr. “Michigan is one state leading the way in environmental innovation.”
During the celebration, 13 of the earliest farms to participate were honored for maintaining their verification in the program.
Pictured are eight of the 13 farms honored at the MAEAP 5,000th Verification Celebration for being some of the earliest adopters of MAEAP and maintaining their verification. (Left to Right) Tim and Kathy Howell of Howell Farms, Tuscola County; Christopher and Angela Guza of Guza Farms,LLC, Huron County; Rebecca Davis of Pfander Farm, Calhoun County; Brad Blonde of Precision Pork, LLC, Hillsdale County; Brian Greerlings of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Ionia County; Jolynn and Doug Patmos of Sunrise Acres, Ottawa County; Larry Metzgar of Metzgar and Amos, LLC, Calhoun County; and Tom Bluhm of Bluhm’s Beef Farm, Osceola County. Not pictured: Northwind Farm, Antrim County; Serenity Farms, LLC, Kalamazoo County; Sietsema Farms, Muskegon County; Sietsema Farms, Newaygo County; and Schichtel Nursery and Vineyard, Grand Traverse County.
“The MAEAP program has been a great fit for us at Sunrise Acres to ensure that we are and continue to be the best stewards of our farm. We want our customers and neighbors to know that our farmland and water resources are being cared for and monitored constantly,” said awardee Doug Patmos of Sunrise Acres Farms of Hudsonville.
“We strive to provide the best possible management practices to allow for our resources to thrive from generation to generation. We care about our environment and do our best to maintain and improve all the resources and land in our care,” said awardee Rick Sietsema of Sietsema Farms of Allendale.
The event concluded with a video message from Senator Debbie Stabenow.
“Farmers are the first and best stewards of our soil and water,” said Sen. Stabenow. “Your work is crucial to the health of both our environment and our economy. In fact, as you know, one out of four jobs in Michigan is tied to agriculture or food production. It’s important to show everyone the good work Michigan producers are doing to protect our environment and create a sustainable future for our state.”
The 5,000th Verification Celebration recognized more than 2,000 producers and agricultural and conservation partners for their continued support and dedication to protecting Michigan’s natural resources. It was a culmination of all the hard work and investment producers have made to reach 5,000 verifications, a goal that was originally set when MAEAP was codified into law in 2011.
For more information about MAEAP or the 5,000th Verification Celebration, visit http://www.MAEAP.org or contact Joe Kelpinski at 517-284-5608.
MAEAP is a voluntary environmental program that works individually with farmers to identify and prevent environmental risks on farms that could result in groundwater or surface water contamination. The program evaluates various aspects of farms based on four systems: Farmstead, Cropping, Livestock, and Forest, Wetlands and Habitat. After mitigating risks on the farm associated with one of the systems, MDARD staff visit the farm to verify the implementation of practices and verify the farm as meeting the program standards.
Additional Quotes of Support:
Michigan Milk Producers Association
“Michigan Milk Producers Association continues to strive for a more sustainable future, and MAEAP fits into our efforts,” said Dean Letter, MMPA Director of Member Services. “MAEAP provides best management practices for our producers, and we are proud to partner with the program.”
Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee
“The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee is a proud MAEAP partner, and we congratulate them on their 5000th verification,” said Laurie Isley, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee President and Lenawee County farmer. “MAEAP has shown the power of voluntary compliance and education in moving farmers towards increased stewardship of our land and water. We are envied by neighboring states for this legislation, which supports and recognizes conservation practices and environmental responsibility. My family’s fifth generation farm is proud to display our MAEAP sign, and we continue to encourage other farmers to participate in this valuable program.”
Corn Marketing Program of Michigan
“Michigan’s corn farmers are deeply committed to protecting our soil and water and increasing efficiency on the farm,” said Jim Zook, Executive Director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. “The MAEAP program is a voluntary program that gives our growers more resources to achieve their goals and helps validate the good work that farmers do every day to protect the environment. We are proud to partner with MAEAP and with our growers for a more sustainable future.”
Michigan Association of Conservation Districts
“We are proud to be a part of a program that furthers our goal of educating others about how to take care of their land and water resources,” said Art Pelon, President of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. “Michigan Conservation Districts are the trusted local delivery system with a proven ability to get conservation projects implemented on private land. By delivering MAEAP at the local level, Conservation Districts and their technicians empower producers by providing technical assistance to help mitigate potential environmental risks.”
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