Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
Governor Rick Snyder’s first bill signings turned the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) into law. On March 8, 2011, Gov. Snyder signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 4212, now Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2011. "Our journey to the ‘New Michigan’ requires that government, industry and stakeholder groups work together toward common goals," Gov. Snyder said.
"MAEAP has proved to be an excellent example of that cooperation. Putting this program into statute secures its place as a model for addressing environmental challenges in a way that also allows our agriculture-based businesses to expand. I am pleased that my first bill signings recognize the critical importance of Michigan agriculture as well as our need to be sound stewards of the environment. The fact that the Legislature acted on these bills so promptly also demonstrates its commitment to the agriculture industry and our shared resources," said Gov. Snyder.
Under the new law:
- The director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture will implement MAEAP in consultation with the Environmental Assurance Advisory Council. The program continues to be voluntary.
- A farmer wishing to participate in MAEAP must complete educational requirements authorized by the Department of Agriculture, develop and implement one or more department-approved conservation plans, and pass an on-site evaluation by the department.
- MAEAP verifications are valid for three years and are renewable.
- Owners or operators of MAEAP-verified farms are not subject to civil fines for discharges into waterways if they act promptly to correct the condition upon discovering it, and report the situation to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality within 24 hours of discovery. They still are responsible for natural resource damages.
- The director of the Department of Agriculture can revoke a farm’s MAEAP verification for reasons such as gross negligence or failure to comply with program standards.
- The Department of Agriculture will establish a MAEAP grants program for uses such as technical assistance, educational programs, demonstration projects to implement conservation practices, and removal of potential contamination sources.
This law is broad. If you have specific questions, please contact Liza Moore at 517.371.8281.