The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.
This comprehensive, voluntary, proactive program is designed to reduce farmers' legal and environmental risks through a three-phase process: 1) education; 2) farm-specific risk assessment; and 3) on-farm verification that ensures the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices. The program's three systems — Farmstead, Cropping, and Livestock— each examine different aspects of the farm. After becoming MAEAP verified, a farm can display a MAEAP sign signifying that MAEAP partners recognize the farm is environmentally assured. Another key component of risk reduction is having an Emergency Plan in place.
In March 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed two bills related to MAEAP providing regulatory incentives for all MAEAP verified farms. Gov. Snyder has also charged the MAEAP Program with the goal of getting 5,000 farms MAEAP verified by 2015. Regulatory incentives for all MAEAP verified farms include:
- If a farm is MAEAP verified and has an accidental discharge and the farmer performs due diligence in notifying and addressing the spill, the farm will only be responsible for natural resource damage and not civil fines and penalties. The farm’s discharge history will be taken into account.
- If a MAEAP verified farm is following its verified land application practices and an unpredicted, significant rainfall event causes a discharge to the waters of the state, the precipitation is considered an “Act of God Weather Event” and the discharge will be considered “nonpoint source pollution.” In this case the only action that can take place is the adoption of “environmentally sound and economically feasible conservation or management practices” provided by the farm in order to avoid future discharges.
- If a farm is MAEAP verified in all applicable “systems” and is in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Watershed, the farm will be considered as implementing the practices needed to meet a TMDL. All farms, regardless of size or type of operation, that achieve MAEAP verification and follow MAEAP standards are allowed these incentives.
MAEAP benefits Michigan by:
- Protecting natural resources using environmentally sound practices.
- Having emergency plans ready to deal with the unexpected.
- Using proven scientific standards to protect our air, water and soil.
- Maximizing natural fertilizer use and reducing use of fertilizers made from fossil fuels.
- Making good neighbors.
- Helping protect the Great Lakes.
- Ensuring safe storage of fuel, fertilizer and chemicals.
- Balancing efficient production and sound environmental practices.
- Taking care of the land while making a living from the land.
The first step for farms to become MAEAP verified is by completing the necessary risk assessments with the Chippewa/Luce/Mackinac Conservation District MAEAP Technician, Michelle Sweeten. Contact our office if you are interested in MAEAP Verification. Visit www.MAEAP.org for more information.