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State ag budget progresses, MAEAP proposal evolves

The House recommends keeping Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program technicians housed within Michigan’s conservation district structure, as they are today, while the Senate proposes housing them within MSU Extension via a contract between the university and MDARD. Image credit: Getty Images
Date Posted: May 14, 2024

The state House and Senate recently approved their versions of the 2024-25 budget for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) on votes of 56-49 and 28-10.

Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park said the organization continues to work with legislators so they know how budget changes will impact the state’s food and farming sector in the coming year.

“The House and Senate mostly followed recommendations presented to them in late April by their agriculture appropriations subcommittees,” Park said, adding that both chambers are proposing changes to the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). 

“The discussion has been centered around the MAEAP technicians, who are responsible for providing on-farm technical assistance through the program,” Park explained. “And while we had concerns with the governor’s original proposal back in February, the House and Senate have put forward alternative, and bipartisan, proposals that we feel are viable.”

The House recommends keeping MAEAP technicians housed within Michigan’s conservation district structure, as they are today. The Senate proposes housing MAEAP technicians within MSU Extension via a contract between the University and MDARD. While structurally different, both proposals recommend $3 million for the program. 

“We believe either option supports the continued success of MAEAP,” Park said. “Meaning that it remains a statewide, voluntary, and confidential program to help farmers meet their goals for environmental stewardship and reduce risk of pollution. 

“Our members have supported MAEAP since its inception and the collaboration of farmers, agricultural organizations, state and federal agencies, and universities is unmatched and remains a critical component to the program.”

Overall budget deliberations are likely to continue throughout May and June, with the upcoming Revenue Estimating Conference helping determine so-called budget targets, which predicts how much money is available for the legislature to appropriate to state-funded agencies and programs.

The following is an overview of the funding levels proposed in the current budget bills under consideration:

Conservation districts

  • House: $3 million 
  • Senate: $6 million 
    • $3 million in base funding and $3 million for some conservation districts to enter a memorandum of understanding with MDARD for certain services.
  • Senate: $250,000 to conduct a study on the role and effectiveness of conservation districts.

Climate resiliency

According to the budget bill language, the climate resiliency program’s goals include “enhancing soil and plant health, soil carbon sequestration, efficient use of water, and protection of water resources.”

  • House: $6 million 
  • Senate: $1 million

Western Lake Erie Basin

  • House: Not included
  • Senate: Reallocation of more than $15 million for continued conservation efforts in the Western Lake Erie Basin including a cost-share program and mitigation costs for no-till practice adoption and soil health education. 

Farm to Family Program

According to the governor’s budget outline, the program would, “create a holistic approach to support regenerative farming, supply chain investment and promote MI food products.”

  • House: $1 million 
  • Senate: $2 million

Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture

  • House and Senate: $3 million to continue the program’s work to advance the Michigan animal agriculture economy.

Double Up Food Bucks

The Double Up Food Bucks Program has been matching EBT, Bridge Card and food stamp dollars spent on fruits and vegetables for 15 years in the state.

  • House: $4 million
  • Senate: $2 million

MSU Extension and AgBioResearch

Within the state's higher education budget, the House and Senate are recommending increases to MSU Extension and AgBioResearch programs.

  • House: A 3.3% increase, totaling $2.4 million 
  • Senate: A 2.5% increase, totaling $1.7 million
Rebecca Park headshot

Rebecca Park

Legislative Counsel
517-679-5346 [email protected]