Van Buren Conservation District recognized for dedicated work with local farmers
Bellaire, MI - At the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts Annual Convention, the Van Buren Conservation District was honored with the MAEAP Grant Host of the Year award from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Award was given for the continued support for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the programs push to help Michigan farmers become, and continue to be, better stewards of the land. Van Buren Conservation District staff attended the conference and accepted the honorable award in front of representatives from other Conservation District, as well as representatives from various state and federal agencies. "We are pleased to have received this award. We have a great team here at the Van Buren Conservation District. Our staff is very knowledgeable and hardworking but the real recognition should go to the farmers across Michigan that are working hard not only for the production of crops but the effort that is being made to change their operation and practices to help keep our environment clean and safe." says AJ Brucks, Executive Director.
The goal of the MAEAP Program is to offer free, confidential, and non-regulatory farm assessments that assist farmers in complying with state and federal laws and Michigan Right to Farm guidelines. The assessments evaluate practices on the farm such as fertilizer, fuel and pesticide storage and practices that take place in the field such as pesticide and fertilizer application, irrigation utilization and overall recordkeeping.
Practices found with the potential to cause adverse environmental impacts are logged in as a "to-do list" for the producer and MAEAP technicians to complete. When a potential impact is reduced it is known as a "Risk Reduction". Risk Reductions can be the closing of an unused well, pouring a concrete pad for the transfer of fuels, or erecting a building designed specifically for fertilizer and pesticide storage.
Once a farm has completed their "to-do list" and reduced their impacts on environmental concerns, meaning they are doing the best they can to keep water quality, soil quality and overall health of their farm to the best standard possible, they can then become MAEAP Verified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. A MAEAP Verification is recognition from the State that all practices, procedures and operations done on the farm are environmentally sound according to Michigan' s Generally Accepted Agricultural Practices (GAAMPS). Producers obtaining this Verification may choose to post a sign at their farm site to let friends, neighbors, and customers know that environmental stewardship is important to the farm owners and operators. "MAEAP verification on the farm takes time and hard work; our farmers are making good conscious decisions about their practices to help protect our community," states Kyle Mead, Van Buren Conservation District's MAEAP technician. "You may recognized the blue, green and white sign that reads MAEAP Verified throughout Van Buren County and across Michigan".
The Van Buren Conservation District has been a partner and grant host for MAEAP since the program began in 2000. Van Buren Conservation District is one the top Districts in the state, ranked in the top five Counties for MAEAP Farm Verifications, they also holds many educational field days for farmers, recycling events for homeowners, river cleanups, plant and tree sales.