….and more importantly, what is MAEAP. When you visit the MAEAP website here’s the definition you get “The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. MAEAP‘s mission is to develop and implement a proactive environmental assurance program ensuring that Michigan farmers are engaging in cost-effective pollution prevention practices and working to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.” All admirable goals and things many farms, including our own, were already voluntarily doing long before MEAEP was put in place.
When we went through the verification process this winter it didn’t require vast changes to comply. This wasn’t because it is an easy process; on the contrary, there are 34 pages of management practices to comply with. It’s because we had already implemented the many requirements. As an example, one large component of the Cropping System verification is nutrient management and we have had a nutrient management program in place for over 30 years. We test the soil before nutrients are applied and only apply when and where necessary. We do this, because it makes economic sense to do so and because the land and water are our lifeblood. If we are going to be true to our name and create a “Legacy” for generations that follow we have to farm sustainably. Technology has also brought us a long way on that front, from more fuel efficient tractors, GPS to prevent overlap of field operations, and technological advances in seed that allow us to grow more with fewer inputs.
That new white sign in the yard means a lot to us…it means we are doing the best job we can with the tools we have available today. There is no doubt that technology is going to continue to change the way we farm and in 10 years, we will be doing things differently because there will be new and better ways to manage. We didn’t go through the MAEAP verification process to change the way we farm, but rather it was to validate that we are doing things right today, so the farm will still be here tomorrow.