MICHIGAN AGRICULTURE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSURANCE PROGRAM

MAEAP was developed by a coalition of agriculture farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups.  While the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is the verifying agency, MAEAP is also a partnership effort.

MAEAP teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and work to comply with State and Federal Environmental Regulations.  Farmers who successfully complete the three phases of a MAEAP system are rewarded by becoming verified in that system.

Four Systems:

Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state.  As a result, a one-size-fits-all approach to environmental protection simply does not work on Michigan farms.  MAEAP effectively overcomes this challenge by offering areas of concentration known as systems.  Each system focuses on a different aspect of farming operation.  Farmers can become verified in all systems applicable to their farm.  The systems are:        

Farmstead

Cropping

Livestock

Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat

Three Phases

Verification in each MAEAP system requires meeting all three phases for that system.

Phase 1 – Education involves farmer attendance at a qualified MAEAP educational session.  Held across the state, these sessions introduce farmers to MAEAP and update them on new and emerging regulations and opportunities affecting agriculture.  For a list of upcoming education sessions or to view online education options go to www.maeap.org.

Phase 2 – On-farm risk assessment focuses on evaluating environmental risks and devising farm-specific and economically viable solutions.  Each MAEAP system uses a unique risk assessment tool developed to address the environmental impacts of that system.

Phase 3 – Third -party verification is completed by MDARD upon farmers request.  MDARD verifies the farm has met the requirements of Phase 1 and 2, the State’s Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) are being followed, and the farm has implemented practices specific to system requirements.  To maintain verified status, farms are reverified every five years.

Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment

Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment is a small-farm, scale-appropriate voluntary program designed to educate producers about food safety and recognize those who use safe food management practices.  This free assessment is geared toward growers who are not currently required to have a certified food safety audit.

The Safe Food Risk Assessment Program assists growers in reducing the risk of foodbourne illness.  To become a Safe Food recognized producer you must be able to demonstrate or document conformance with at least 80 percent of the key food-safety management practices listed in the Safe Food Risk Assessment.

Many grocery chains and institutional produce buyers have addressed consumer food-safety concerns by requiring a certified food-safety farm audit from their fresh produce growers and suppliers.  A number of public and private organizations can assist producers who wish to have a certified audit.

For more information please contact the Mason-Lake Conservation District @ 231-757-3708 x3.

Farmstead Emergency Planning

Preventing and properly responding to a spill or discharge on a farm is everyone’s concern. Communication between the farm owner, supervisors, and employees generates ideas and awareness that leads to accident prevention and quick response if a spill does occur. An Emergency Action Plan is a basic, yet thorough, common sense plan that will help you make the right decision during an emergency.

Developing a good plan is the first step towards implementing a sound environmental policy. In reality a plan cannot be implemented if employees are not aware of the plans contents. All too often a good plan remains on the shelf, and is never implemented due to a lack of training and direction.

Components of a thorough plan include: 1) Farm site map identifying all chemical storage areas, fuel storage areas, livestock-related buildings, manure handling and storage facilities, environmentally sensitive areas such as wells, and the location of equipment that may be used to respond to an emergency. ƒ 2) Emergency contact numbers. ƒ Owner contact numbers- where the owner can be contacted in the case of an emergency both day and night. ƒ 3) Back up contact numbers- the person that can be contacted in the case of an emergency if the owner can’t be reached. ƒ 3) All appropriate emergency contacts, including the farm owner’s doctor and veterinarian; this list may also include a local excavator in case of a spill.

All Farm owners should develop emergency plans to help ensure the safety of the responders, minimize property damage, protect family members and employees and protect the environment. Farm Owners should develop an emergency plan for each separate operation or separate site, reviewing and updating annually or whenever significant changes occur on the farm. This bulletin contains information on preparing your emergency farm plan. It also contains a template (pages 4-14) for you to complete your own emergency plan.

As the farm owner, you should assess possible events, caused by humans or caused by nature, that may strike your operation, and consider the potential impacts. This assessment will help identify and prioritize the types of events that you want to be prepared to address and will lay the foundation for emergency response planning.

Discuss the emergency plan with family members and employees, and post it in a central and secure location on the farm for reference in an emergency.  Invite your local fire department representative or other emergency service providers to your farm to review your plan and show them details listed in the plan. Invite them to make suggestions on how to improve your plan.