The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) could soon get a major investment of federal funds thanks to a new appropriations bill in the state Senate.
Introduced by Senator Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), Senate Bill 565 would use $2.21 billion in federal American Recovery Plan funding and $290 million in repurposed state bond funds to make investments in dam infrastructure, wastewater systems, clean drinking water, and environmental protection programs like MAEAP.
“Clean drinking water and taking care of our environment aren’t partisan issues,” Bumstead said. “This one-time federal funding will be a great asset as we work toward a cleaner, safer Michigan.”
MAEAP is an innovative, proactive program that for more than 20 years has helped farms of all sizes and commodities voluntarily reduce agricultural pollution risks through education and on-farm assistance.
The bill calls for setting aside $15 million of that money to conduct conservation activities described in the agriculture pollution fund, provide incentives and cost-sharing funding for the implementation of MAEAP practices and help local conservation districts provide more services to those seeking MAEAP assistance.
“This proposed funding is very exciting for the MAEAP program,” said Ben Tirrell, Michigan Farm Bureau associate legislative counsel.
“Conservation districts have always been an important partner for the MAEAP program. Additional money to support those boots on the ground' is always helpful, and Michigan Farm Bureau supports Senate Bill 565.”
Approximately 3,500 Michigan farms have completed nearly 6,000 on-farm verifications through MAEAP.
“I have long supported MAEAP as an effective voluntary program that works as a partnership between local farmers, our state universities and our state agencies to protect our water, environment and agricultural resources,” said bill co-sponsor Sen. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville).
“This one-time, once-in-a-lifetime funding from the federal government should be used to make drastic, long-term investments that will benefit the good people of Michigan for generations to come.”
The proposed funding for MAEAP is contingent on the passage of Senate Bill 494, which renews the fees paid by farmers and agribusinesses to support the program.