Environmental Assurance Program verifies local farm

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is recognizing Kelsey Lake Farm, of Cassopolis in Cass County, as a verified farm in the Cropping, Farmstead, and Livestock Systems for implementing appropriate pollution prevention practices.

The program assists farmers to comply with state and federal environmental regulations and with Right to Farm practices. Technical assistance was provided by the Cass Conservation District.

“I am pleased to announce that Kelsey Lake Farm has taken the steps necessary to become an environmentally verified operation,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “Michigan is leading the way nationwide in effective stewardship practices with the voluntary, incentive-based MAEAP program. This continued effort shows agricultural producers long term commitment to protecting the environment while maintaining economic success.”

MAEAP is a collaborative effort of farmers, MDARD, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, universities, conservation districts, conservation and environmental groups and state and federal agencies.  More than 100 local coordinators and technical service providers are available to assist farmers as they move through the MAEAP process toward verification. An average of 5,000 Michigan farmers attend educational programs annually; 10,000 Michigan farms have started the verification process; and over 2,000 verifications to date.

To become MAEAP verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting a thorough on-farm risk assessment, and developing and implementing an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. MDARD conducts an on farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, Michigan Right to Farm guidelines, and adherence to an action plan. When completed, the producer receives a certificate of environmental assurance. To remain a MAEAP verified farm, inspections must be conducted every three years and action steps must be followed.

In March of 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 4212, now Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2011, to codify the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program into law.

MAEAP is a multi-year program allowing producers to meet personal objectives, while best managing both time and resources. 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. By participating in all three systems, producers can comprehensively evaluate their entire farming operation for potential environmental risks.

For more information, visit the MAEAP website at www.maeap.org or contact Joe Kelpinski, MDARD’s MAEAP Program Manager, at (517) 284-5608.

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