OVID, Mich. (WLNS) — Laura Braun is one of about 3,500 farmers in Michigan who participates in the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program, also known as MAEAP.
“It shows the community at large that we’re concerned about environmental issues. We take them seriously,” Braun said.
Farmers give soil samples to get verified by MAEAP as an environmentally safe farm. The program looks at everything from how chemicals are stored, to pesticide and nutrient levels.
“We’ve been doing it all along,” Braun said.
Braun said the thing that makes this program special is it’s totally voluntarily, but thousands of farmers have signed up to do it.
The program is mutually beneficial because it gives farmers valuable direction, Braun said.
“Buying a lot of fertilizer and saying the more the better is not a good practice,” Braun said. “Not only for the environment but also for your bottom line.”
“When you have healthy soil, you grow better crops. And when you grow better crops you have a better bottom line.”
Recently, many farmers have supported Senate Bill 494, a new proposal which would keep the program going.
“It continues the funding that has been there for the program and then it sets up ways for the state to potentially do other environmental activities in the future as funds, those resources become available,” said Ben Tirrell, the Legislative Counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau.
Tirrell said the farmers he’s worked with have almost always cared about the environment.
“In most instances it’s a very deeply ingrained respect and love for that land and so that’s something that I think that has shown through in this program and again thousands of farmers have done this just because they think it’s the right thing to do,” Tirrell said.
Braun said she was surprised how easy the process was when she first started, and is proud to display her “environmentally verified” sign in front of her farm — which is good for 5 years.
“Nowadays, environmental concerns are on everybody’s mind and we want to show everybody that we’re already on it,” Braun said.