Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

July 27, 2013

Ag Forum: Roadblocks to workshop

TRAVERSE CITY — It is quite common to drive around the Grand Traverse region and see several “This Farm is Environmentally Verified” signs along scenic country roads, indicating a Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) verified farm.

MAEAP verification assures growers they are truly doing the right thing for the land they love by preserving its integrity for future generations. While more and more local growers are pursuing the voluntary pollution prevention program, there still remains several roadblocks a grower may encounter on the way to verification.

In a two-part series, MAEAP representatives from local conservation districts, along with representatives from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will host on-site workshops identifying common roadblocks and provide technical support on how to overcome the obstacles to become MAEAP verified. The first event will be hosted on Aug. 15 on the newly verified Evans Brothers Farms in Benzie County in the format of an informative barn meeting. On Sept. 15, a farm tour will encompass several farms in Benzie and Manistee counties, highlighting growers in the process of becoming verified.

As a farmer travels down the road to becoming MAEAP verified, NRCS can be a valuable tool to help you along. NRCS is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture, and its job is to assist private landowners with planning and implementing conservation practices on their land. These conservation practices protect soil and water quality.

So what can you expect when working with NRCS? The agency helps you plan and implement your conservation goals: anything from getting more forage growth from your pastures, providing habitat for native pollinators, managing nutrient inputs for your crop, or matching which trees grow best in your soil type. Goals can be as complex or as simple as you wish, but NRCS assists with those goals by applying sound science and helping with the logistics to make your conservation goal a reality. When progressing toward becoming a MAEAP verified farm, NRCS works with you in three ways: planning, technical assistance, and financial assistance.

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