By Daniel Kesselring, Secretary
Michigan Chapter Soil and Water Conservation Society
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) held a celebration commemorating the 5000th MAEAP verification on March 20 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan. That's progress! MAEAP was first developed in 1997 by a coalition of farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups to provide a venue for farmers to become better educated about management options in order to help protect and enhance the quality of natural resources.On March 8, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation establishing MAEAP in law. That means that MAEAP has been available for about 22 years, and it has taken much patience and perseverance to achieve that progress.
It's going to take more patience and perseverance in the future to keep this progress going. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimated that Michigan had 50,900 Farm Operations in 2017. NASS estimates show that half of these are small operations grossing less than $10,000 in annual sales, so they may have limited affect on agriculture's overall impact on the environment. But, NASS estimates that 14,700 farm operations grossed between $10,000 and $100,000 in sales, and 11,300 farm operations grossed $100,000 to $500,000 in sales. Depending on the average farm operation size involved in MAEAP's 5000 verifications, MAEAP has successfully verified anywhere from about 10% to 45% of the farm operations in Michigan.
Whatever the number of farm operations verified so far, these statistics show that there's still a lot more to do. At least half of the farm operations in Michigan are still awaiting a verification of some kind under MAEAP. And, since MAEAP consists of four separate verification categories, there could be much more than half still awaiting complete verification of entire farms. In addition, MAEAP verifications are not permanent. Each verification is valid for three years, and after three years each verification must be re-certified or the verification status lapses.
So, after 21 years of progress, there still seems to be a lot of work to do. Is there an explanation for this? Obviously, the remaining workload is not for a lack of effort. MAEAP now involves the cooperative efforts of a wide spectrum of Local, State and Federal government entities, Universities, agric-businesses and non-governmental organizations. Each of these entities have specific roles, and coordination of those roles is one of the tasks each must tackle. This coordination has had considerable time to develop, and much progress has been made, but, nevertheless, maintaining that coordination will continue to take perseverance and patience.
Of course, another factor weighing in on the difference between verified farms and those that are not yet verified is the agricultural community's trust and confidence in the MAEAP system and the partners working to implement MAEAP. That's where the major need for perseverance and patience comes in. This was part of the focus of the Michigan Chapter SWCS's last Seminar held in early March. The title “A Matter of Balance: Perceptions, Engagement and Partnerships for On-Farm Conservation” was intended to put the focus on the social sciences involved in getting conservation practices accepted and land operators involved in the application physical sciences on their land. Dr. Prokopy focused on barriers to and motivations for the application of conservation practices by farmers in her first presentation. Then Dr. Prokopy and other speakers focused on multi-organizational partnerships and landowner engagement.
We know the practices that work. And, there's plenty of research going on to make practices work better or to find alternatives. But, we don't know as much about the social sciences. How do we get the practices that work applied to the land where these practices are needed? That's where much of the patience and perseverance will be needed to keep that MAEAP progress going.
Note: Dr. Prokopy is now scheduled to be a speaker at the SWCS International Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, Wednesday, July 31.
We are pleased to announce that the Soil and Water Conservation Society has awarded the Chapter Achievement and Outstanding Chapter Award to the Michigan Chapter!
This is a great honor, and we are proud for the hard work of our chapter members as volunteers, professionals, conservationists, and scholars. Special thanks to Daniel Kesselring, who prepared this report among his many other acts of service for our organization.
Dan Kesselring (and Glenn O'Neil, alternate delegate) will be present at the 74thSWCS International Annual Conference, July 28-31, 2019, at the Wyndham Grand in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Awards will be presented at the 2019 Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, July 30 at 12:00 PM.
Do you have some conservation-worthy news to share? Upcoming events or topics of interest to the SWCS Professional Development Committee? Please feel free to share them with newsletter editor, Rebecca Bender at firstname.lastname@example.org
MSU Extension resources include news, podcasts, videos, "Virtual Breakfast" webinars, and more
Throughout Michigan and the Midwest, prolonged wet weather and flooding have put farmers in a difficult position as spring planting season is coming to a close. With unprecedented rainfall, farmers have had to delay planting and adjust management practices. MSU Extension has a statewide network of agricultural educators tracking growing conditions, speaking with farmers and writing educational articles about how farmers can adjust to these inhospitable conditions and difficult choices.
Michigan Chapter of Soil and Water Conservation Society is proud to have had several members present for the unanimous resolution to declare April 28- May 5 Soil Stewardship Week in Michigan.
Leading sponsor Representative Alex Garza (left at center) is pictured here with SWCS members Elaine Brown Bartholic (3rd from left), Gerald Miller (3rd from right) and John Switzer (at far right).
Representative Alex Garza of District 12 presented the following:
House Resolution No. 84
A resolution to declare April 28-May 5, 2019, as Soil and Water Stewardship Week in the state of Michigan.
Whereas, Productive soil and clean water provide daily sustenance and food security; and
Whereas, Soil and water are preeminent natural resources that support major economic sectors of our state including agriculture, energy, forestry, and recreation; and
Whereas, Effective conservation practices have helped Michigan citizens achieve a productive standard of living and quality of life; and
Whereas, Our future security depends upon healthy soil and clean water. Stewardship of our soil and water recognizes that each Michigander can help conserve these precious resources; and
Whereas, Michigan’s Conservation Partnership and 75 Conservation Districts purpose is to assist individual land owners and managers to protect and enhance the states’ soil and water resources; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of the Representatives, That the members of this legislative body declare April 28-May 5, 2019, as Soil and Water Stewardship Week in the state of Michigan. We encourage all citizens to recognize and celebrate this momentous occasion.
This section is a summary and reminder of bills recently introduced or amended regarding Great Lakes agriculture, environmental protection, and natural resources.
SB0365 “enhances” environmental remediation and oversight of cleanups (6/11 referred to Committee on Environmental Quality)
Codify Michigan PFAS action response team (HB4746) passed on 6/20
Require reports on use of and require department of environmental quality to accept for disposal of firefighting foam containing PFAs (HB4389) and restrict use in training (HB4390); referred to Committee on Ways and Means, with substitute H-1
HB 4691 authorizes fee to provide for municipal stormwater utilities
New act prohibiting us and sale of coal tar sealant or other high AH sealant for pavement (HB 4719)
Revised penalty for illegal taking of sturgeon (HB 4018) referred to second reading
Creation of advisory body Committee on Mining Future (HB 4227) presented to the Governor 6/24
A more complete listing of legislative action can be found at www.legislature.mi.gov and we encourage you to stay informed and to contact your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives at the state and national level.
July 28-31, 2019 SWCS International Annual Conference Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
SWCS is seeking oral presentations, poster presentations, symposia and workshops for the 74th SWCS International Annual Conference
This newsletter is a monthly compilation of news stories of interest to Michigan SWCS members and stakeholders. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Soil and Water Conservation Society unless so stated.
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