Ken Sparks said it is important that his farm addresses the most current good environmental practics. “The best part is the sense of accomplishment that neighbors can see and say, hey, they must be taking this farming thing seriously.”

MAEAP verifies Sparks farm

Published 10:52pm Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Ken Sparks of Sparks Cedarlee Farm recently received the Farmstead verification in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). Sparks Cedarlee Farm consists of 1,200 acres of cash crops and a 230-cow, pasture-based dairy.
MAEAP is a program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agriculture pollution risks.
It teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.
It is a collaborative effort of producers, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, Michigan State University, conservation groups and other state and federal agencies.
More than 150 local coordinators and technical service providers are available to assist farmers as they move through the MAEAP process toward verification.
To date, there are more than 1,000 farms that have been verified.
To become MAEAP-verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps: attending an educational seminar, conducting an on-farm risk assessment and passing a third party on-farm verification.
Farms can be verified in multiple systems: livestock, farmstead and cropping to name a few.
When asked why MAEAP was important to them, Ken Sparks said, “It is
important that my farm is addressing the most current good environmental practices and, of course ,implementing them. The best part is the sense of accomplishment that neighbors can see and say, hey, they must be taking this farming thing seriously.”
Abbey Dorr, groundwater technician for Cass County Conservation District, worked with Sparks to complete their risk assessment and through the verification process, which provided them with the yard sign denoting their achievement.
For more information about MAEAP or how to get involved, check out www.maeap.org or contact Abbey at the Cass County Conservation District at (269) 445-8634.

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