Tyler’s Take: Improve and protect Michigan agriculturePublished 11:41pm Monday, February 28, 2011
Last week the House approved legislation for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. If signed into law, the program will make Michigan a leader in helping farmers protect the environment. The MAEAP is successful because it educates farmers and connects them with the Michigan Department of Agriculture to improve agri-business together.
With the legislature’s main focus on creating jobs, verified MAEAP farms will boost Michigan’s agriculture industry and encourage farmers across the state to do the right thing. Taking the necessary steps to protect the Great Lakes and natural resources by implementing environmentally sound practices will guarantee quality production for years to come.
Agriculture is Michigan’s second-largest industry and it contributes more than $71 billion annually to the state’s economy. The MAEAP enhances agriculture by working with farmers who choose to participate to help them comply with environmental protection standards to avoid fines and penalties. These farmers are caring for the land while making a living from the land. The MAEAP is designed to reduce unnecessary fees and environmental risks through education and farm-specific risk assessment, ensuring the farmer has exercised environmentally conservative practices.
The program is not only good for the environment and an example of cooperation, it is a cost effective investment for all of Michigan with more than 300 percent return on investment for every dollar of state general fund dollars spent.
Here in Berrien and Cass counties, we are also very good at working together for the sake of improving and sustaining our agricultural industry. Farmers, the Farm Bureau, the Michigan State University Extension and local and state officials work together to create a successful environment for agriculture in our region.
Making agricultural processing eligible for 21st Century Jobs Fund and placing the MAEAP into law are great steps towards strengthening agri-business in Michigan. By working together we can put Michigan back on solid ground.
I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.