While driving by a farm or orchard you may have noticed it, a white verification sign and on it, a blue river flowing through two green hills. It's a sight that has become increasingly common in the last decade with over 5,000 signs being given out. These signs are awarded to farmers, ranchers and growers after completing the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).
The verification sign is a proud marker of the farm’s accomplishment putting steps in place to ensure their actions are environmentally conscious, leaving a cleaner Earth for the next generation. Verified farms also earn recognition as top stewards in the community and get preferred consideration for both technical assistance and cost share.
Verification is available to any Michigan farmer in four categories: Farmstead System, Cropping System, Livestock System, and Forest, Wetlands and Habitat System. While each system focuses on different environmental practices to increase protection of the environment, farms can get verified for one or multiple systems.
To become verified, farms should follow the standard 4-step process below:
1. Schedule Farm Visit: To understand your farm’s environmental practices and daily operations, a MAEAP technician will visit your farm. The visit is 100 percent confidential and the technician will not share findings with anyone but you.
Click here to request a free farm visit today.
2. Farm Assessment: During the farm visit, the MAEAP technician will assess your farm, recommend practical steps to reduce erosion and runoff into public waters, and develop a plan of action tailored to you.
3. Implement Plan: After visiting with the technician and establishing a plan to improve, you can start implementing the recommended changes at your own pace.
4. Contact Verifier: Once the changes have been made or a new process is in place, contact a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development verifier to schedule a visit. During the visit, they will verify the changes and review the farm to ensure it complies with MAEAP guidelines. Once verified, a sign will be given to display the work
Every step of the verification process is 100 percent confidential and information gathered by technicians or verifiers will not be shared with anyone but the individual seeking verification.
To encourage more farms to become MAEAP verified, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recently relaunched MAEAP’s website to offer convenience and transparency to farmers. The relaunch also provides a clear procedure for each farmer preparing to take the first step, as well as testimonials from individuals who have already completed the verification.
GreenStone is proud to partner with MAEAP and offer assistance to farmers who are interested in learning more about becoming verified and initiating environmentally friendly practices on their farm. For more information on becoming verified and how it can bring long-term value to your farm, visit www.maeap.org.