Submitted to the Herald Review LANSING — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is recognizing 36 farms for implementing appropriate pollution prevention practices. The program assists farmers to comply with state and federal environmental regulations and with Right to Farm practices. Technical assistance was provided by local Conservation Districts. Several area farms were among the 36 recognized. Local farms include: • R & B Farms, of Reed City, as a verified farm in Cropping System • PopAl Lane Farm, of Leroy, as a verified farm in Cropping, Farmstead and Livestock Systems • Tyler Martin Farm, of Barryton, as a verified farm in Cropping and Farmstead Systems • Jeff Storey Farms, of Blanchard, as a verified farm in Cropping, Farmstead and Livestock Systems “These 36 farms represent the agricultural community’s commitment to a sustainable environment,” said MDARD Director Gordon Wenk. “By taking the steps necessary to become MAEAP verified, farmers continue to be excellent stewards of their land. The success of the program demonstrates how the agricultural community comes together to protect our land and water quality.” MAEAP is a collaborative effort of farmers, MDARD, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, universities, conservation districts, conservation and environmental groups and state and federal agencies. More than 100 local coordinators and technical service providers are available to assist farmers as they move through the MAEAP process toward verification. An average of 5,000 Michigan farmers attend educational programs annually, 10,000 Michigan farms have started the verification process and over 4,000 verifications to date. To become MAEAP verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting a thorough on-farm risk assessment, and developing and implementing an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. MDARD conducts an on‑farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, Michigan Right to Farm guidelines, and adherence to an action plan. When completed, the producer receives a certificate of environmental assurance. To remain a MAEAP verified farm, inspections must be conducted every five years and action steps must be followed.