Two options allow agricultural producers to lean about conservation and food safety on their farm.

The Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is a proactive program for all farms to voluntarily prevent or minimize environmental pollution risks.

The farm is able to select a ‘system’ in which they wish to be verified, including Farmstead; Cropping; Livestock; and Forests, Wetlands and Habitat. Farmers work with a local MAEAP technician to implement changes on their farm to receive a MAEAP verification in any of the applicable systems.

The Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Program is another program involving conservation practices on the farm. Through the program, a farm is able to receive a Certificate from the State of Michigan through successful completion of a Produce Safety Risk Assessment with your local Produce Safety Technician.

If a grower is already working with a MAEAP Technician, or has been verified in one or more of the Systems, there are some conservation practices overlap with food safety on the farm.

These two programs work together to implement additional conservation practices and food safety practices to a farm, enveloping the idea of co-management on the farm.

“’Co-Management’ means farm system management approaches that respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that promote ecological balance and public health by conserving biodiversity, soil, water, air, energy and other natural resources, while also reducing pathogen hazards associated with food production.” (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition).

Through MAEAP, a farm is addressing these food safety aspects: water quality, nutrient and pest management, livestock, manure and compost.

Some other on-farm conservation practices that improve produce safety include: wellhead protection; livestock lot stormwater containment; livestock lot dust control; animal waste storage; wetland restoration; sediment basins; prescribed grazing operations; cover cropping; soil health management; vegetative field buffers and conservation covers; riparian buffers, filter strips and grassy waterways.

View more information in the WFA Handbook: https://tinyurl.com/wfahandbook.

More resources are available on the co-management of food safety and conservation. This includes promoting ecological balance, conserving natural resources, protecting public health and reducing pathogen hazards. For more information contact a local Produce Safety Technician, MAEAP Technician or Michigan Food and Farming Systems: https://maeap.org.

Additional information on Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety: https://tinyurl.com/miproducesafety. More information on Michigan Food and Farming Systems: https://www.miffs.org.

Michelle Jacokes is a produce safety technician working with fresh produce growers on farms in Manistee, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Benzie counties. Services are free, voluntary and confidential. For more information about the Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Program visit manisteecd2.org and locate the Produce Safety page under Landowner Assistance. Contact Michelle at michelle.jacokes@macd.org or 231-889-9666.

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