MACD News Blog

USDA Accepting More Farmland for Wildlife Habitat in Michigan

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Michigan Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that an additional 3,500 acres of agricultural land in Michigan is eligible for funding for wildlife habitat restoration. 

The initiative, known as State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), is part of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally-funded voluntary program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road. 

In total, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding through this SAFE announcement. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE nationwide.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, which has not only resulted in significant soil and water improvements, but also greater populations of waterfowl, gamebirds and other wildlife native to the rural countryside,” said Christine White, Michigan FSA Executive Director. “Here in Michigan, 10,000 acres in the Michigan Diverse Grassland and 3,500 acres in the Michigan Native Pollinator projects are designed specifically to increase pollinator and grassland bird habitat. Since it was first established in 2008, farmers and ranchers have enrolled approximately 6,500 acres, showing a positive population trend on enrolled acreage in these focus areas. We hope to continue this progress by offering interested farmers and ranchers the opportunity to enroll another 3,500 acres in this project.”

Landowners and producers are encouraged to learn more about the program through their local Conservation District and FSA County office.  To learn more the 30th anniversary of CRP and to review 30 success stories throughout the year, click here or follow Twitter at #CRPis30.  Additionally, more information about FSA conservation programs is available by visiting the FSA website

Michigan Conservation Districts support SAFE and the many conservation programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill was reauthorized in 2014 and builds on past the Farm Bill success, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. For more information on Michigan Conservation Districts, visit the MACD website.  For more information on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

MAEAP Funding Secure

Monday, June 22, 2015


A big thank you to everyone in the conservation and agriculture communities in Michigan for all your efforts in support of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) over the last several months.

The MAEAP legislation which has worked its way through the legislature was passed on Thursday, June 18th and sent on to the Governor's desk for signature.

We appreciate your strong support and your calls to legislators in support of the program and MAEAP funding.  We look forward to continuing our work with Michigan Conservation Districts as the delivery system for the technical assistance provided to farmers and landowners through this program and working with stakeholders as partners to continue growing MAEAP for the benefit of Michiganders and our natural resources.  

MACD would also like to thank Representative Dan Lauwers, District 81 for his leadership in sponsoring the original legislation, House Bill 4391, a compromise version of which passed through the Senate on June 18th.  And, we would like make special note of the leadership of Director Jamie Clover Adams and her staff at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, they provided significant leadership and support throughout the lengthy legislative process.

MAEAP is an extremely important program for Michigan's agriculture community. This innovative, proactive program helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.  Created in Michigan, by Michigan's farmers, commodity groups, conservation and environmental groups, and state and federal agencies, MAEAP provides a systems approach for farmers and landowners to understand management options that will help to protect and enhance their operation and the quality of our natural resources.   To learn more about MAEAP, visit www.maeap.org


Call to Action 4391 - H1

Monday, June 08, 2015


Fire up your phones!

 

Please CALL and EMAIL your representative tonight and throughout the morning and let them know that you, and your fellow constituents want to VOTE NO on (HB 4391 S-1).   Vote YES on (HB 4391 H-1), the original bill as passed Senate Appropriations Committee.  This will be a vote up on the floor tomorrow morning, so please act quickly.  Here are a few key talking points and issues of concern MACD / Districts and all MAEAP supporters should have.

 

  1. 1.  We strongly support the original bill as passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee ( Vote YES on (HB 4391 H-1).   A document crafted with care and widespread support of over 25 diverse organizations, interests and stakeholders. 
  2. 2.  Substitute Bill and use of additional funds:  In the original bill there is much flexibility of how to target extra revenue including:  education and outreach, cost shares to target small and medium sized producers etc.  The substitution bill eliminates flexibility and designates the revenue in two detrimental ways.  First, all designated revenue will be used for a specified purpose, and second it creates a new ‘board’ to make determinations on the use of said revenue.  (see talking pt. 3)
  3. 3.  The substitute bill will create an additional ‘Board’.  The current MAEAP Advisory Council is a large and diverse mix of organizations, individuals and viewpoints.  It includes a mix of producers, small and large, wildlife, industry, and environmental leaders.  Under the substitute bill, a new board will be created and given oversight over funds mentioned in section 2.  This new board does not encompass or include the established board.  

To recap, please make as much noise as you can with the following message: 

  • Vote NO on (HB 4391 S-1) 
  • Vote YES on (HB 4391 H-1)

Glen Lake Third place Community Outreach Project ME State Competition

Friday, May 15, 2015

Glen Lake High School Take Third place for their Community Outreach Project at the Michigan Envirothon State Competition

A team of students from Glen Lake High School, Caleb and the Galaxy Gals, took third place in the Community Outreach category at the Michigan Envirothon State Competition held May 6th – 8th at Ft. Custer Training Center in Augusta, MI. Seniors Bryanne Palmer, Jane Lively, McKenna Turrill, Skylar Gleason and freshman Caleb Gleason finished third among teams from across the state after putting their public speaking, civic engagement and problem solving to the test.

The 21st annual Michigan Envirothon State Competition hosted remarkable students from around the state.  Twenty four teams qualified and received invitations to the State Competition.  Teams qualified through regional contests held around the state throughout the month of March.

The Michigan Envirothon (ME) program focuses on using the outdoors as a classroom, utilizing diverse "eco-stations" as competition testing sites, and interaction and training with professionals in the field.  In addition to gaining valuable knowledge, teams also complete a Community Outreach Project as part of the competition; identifying and addressing an environmental issue in their community through hands-on problem solving and community education.  A unique component of ME, the community outreach project insures that the program reaches the community, not just the students involved.

A panel of judges evaluated oral and written presentations given by each team, which detailed their community outreach project. As always, all of the teams implemented impressive community action and outreach projects.  The team focused on the importance of local food and how it helps support local economies, reduce the production of fossil fuels from the shipment of food and help build a healthier community.  The team revived a community garden in Empire, MI as part of their project. 

ME is an environmental science based education program for high school students, presented in a team-based competition format.  ME is designed to foster critical thinking, wise stewardship and community involvement. By participating in ME, students and advisors gain knowledge of current environ-mental issues and are motivated to become engaged stewards of Michigan’s natural resources.  

Michigan Envirothon is administered by the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, a 501(C)3 non profit organization. All Michigan high school students are eligible to compete. For more information about Michigan Envirothon go to www.michiganenvirothon.org or contact Angela Sandusky, Michigan Envirothon coordinator at mienirothon@macd.org or (517)930-7449.

 

*Photos are available upon request