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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management #84

Farmers, along with other rural and urban residents, are concerned about nonpoint source pollution of Michigan's surface and groundwater. Protecting surface and groundwater from contamination is a priority and we recognize agriculture shares the responsibility with many others.

Nonpoint source pollution prevention programs implemented by state and federal agencies should reflect a coordinated, integrated and consistent management approach. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) should coordinate all agricultural nonpoint source pollution programs.

Michigan's conservation districts are an important component of MDARD’s nonpoint source pollution programs. These voluntary programs are best administered by locally elected conservation district boards who understand their community's needs and problems.

Agriculture should lead watershed management, or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will make efforts to place permits on the industry. We encourage full representation of agricultural interests in watershed initiative projects funded through the Clean Water Act. Any management practices prescribed by the project should be voluntary rather than mandatory. Municipalities share the same responsibilities to our environment and should be held to the same standards and penalties as private individuals.

We support:

Fertilizer and Nutrient Management

  • All fertilizer retailers becoming certified in the 4R (Right fertilizer source, Right rate, Right time, Right place) Nutrient Stewardship Program and/or similar fertilizer management efforts.

  • Michigan Farm Bureau coordinating with neighboring states and Canada where a watershed is shared to reduce nutrient loading issues.

  • University, state and federal programs promptly updating guidelines when nutrient research is completed, so farmers have time to implement them.

  • Additional research on dissolved phosphorus.

  • Continued education on appropriate phosphorus and other nutrient use.

  • Biosolid applications being consistent with the guidelines in the Michigan Water Environment Association’s Land Application of Biosolids in Michigan Management Recommendations.

  • The current regulated use of biosolids as a source of nutrients on farmland as allowed in the Right to Farm Act.

  • Research in Michigan to determine the safe levels of emerging contaminants (including per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS) in biosolids that will be applied to land used for crop production.

  • Michigan developing standards to keep biosolids a feasible crop production nutrient source, without the risk of soil contamination by emerging contaminants (including PFAS) from any applied biosolid.

Conservation and Pollution Prevention Programs

  • The farm bill providing opportunities for farmers to address conservation programs on farms.

  • The continued refining of conservation program delivery to ensure the process is transparent, consistent and simple to participating farmers. We appreciate newly available technical and financial assistance to address on-farm above-ground fuel tanks and liquid fertilizer storage.

  • Developing nutrient management plans for all farms.

  • Continuing the cost-share provided to producers for conservation practices.

  • A state-funded cover crop and filter strip cost-share program.

  • The Clean Sweep Program with MDARD accepting responsibility for future liability for chemicals collected.

  • Legislation clarifying forest management practices are not point sources of pollution.

  • Developing baseline environmental standards for agriculture in line with current production standards and methods.

  • Coordinated efforts to expedite soil stabilization permits.

  • Scientific, site-specific testing protocols and/or landowner consent prior to the state and federal agencies determining an area is contaminated, with testing costs, loss of land value, and indemnification being the responsibility of the state and/or federal government if the contamination is not the fault of the landowner.

  • The acting agency being held liable for current and future losses and expenses; including but not limited to, loss of value of commodities, loss of land, loss of business, etc. and for complete indemnification of everything a farm loses when the agency decides a farm's soil, water, crops, or livestock is contaminated, when the contamination is not the landowner’s fault.

  • Funding for research and collaboration between agencies, universities, and the private sector to evaluate the health risks and strategies for mitigating risks associated with chemical contaminants in water and food.

  • Using sound science to determine the level of impact of emerging contaminant (including PFAS) issues. Before any new regulations are developed the financial impact and liability to the affected community must be determined.

  • MDARD, working in cooperation with MDEGLE and local governments, overseeing the disposal of moderately contaminated watershed sediments on farm lands containing greater levels of the identified contaminants.

  • Legislation providing liability protection to farmers who follow the label directions, pertinent regulations, and Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) for fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Legislation providing financial support to farms that have been determined by the state to be contaminated with PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

  • MFB being involved in fiscally responsible strategies to fund voluntary conservation practices.

  • The existing Soil and Sedimentation Control Act exemption for plowing, tilling and other agricultural and land improvement activities.

  • Eliminating the acreage cap for Michigan’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Water Quality and Watershed Management

  • Use of the Saginaw Bay Optimization Model.

  • The Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan.

  • Streamlining the process of allocating funds to improve water quality at the farm level.

  • The use of sound science to determine water quality.

  • MFB taking a leadership role in developing protocols for water quality monitoring.

  • An unbiased study to determine contributors negatively impacting water quality before additional regulations are imposed upon agriculture.

  • Farm Bureau members participating in voluntary water quality monitoring programs, in which results are kept confidential.

  • Farmer representation on local boards and commissions making decisions on environmental policies such as land use and watershed planning.

  • Encouraging state and local governments to utilize buffer strips around government owned buildings and parking areas.

We oppose:

  • Water quality monitoring of ditches and streams selectively performed to incriminate individuals and not performed by certified individuals in accordance with MDEGLE protocols.

  • Any fertilizer and pesticide use regulation by local government more restrictive than MDARD and EPA regulations.

  • Farmers being presumed to cause pollution of public or private water supplies near agricultural operations.

  • Additional environmental permits for agricultural non-point source pollution.

  • Restricting phosphorus for agricultural use if producers follow GAAMPs or soil testing by a certified lab.

  • Giving legal standing or rights to natural resources and bodies of water. 

  • A statewide septic code that requires mandatory inspections of private septic systems.


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