Michigan manure hauler certification program
Certification program aims to increase the base manure application knowledge level for all applicators.
Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Agribusiness Association are hosting a meeting on Thursday, March 1 at Michigan Farm Bureau in Lansing to introduce a manure hauler certification program. Anyone who applies manure is urged to attend. The purposes for the meeting are to present the draft version of the proposed manure hauler certification program, receive comments on the material that has been developed in support of the certification program and increase hauler knowledge of manure application.
The goals of the certification program are to:
- Prevent manure application problems before they occur.
- Increase nutrient management plan implementation.
- Demonstrate responsible manure application.
- Increase the base level of manure management knowledge of all applicators.
The certification program consists of three tiers. Individuals who are certified at tier one have a basic knowledge of manure spill response and proper manure application techniques. Individuals achieve this level by passing a test. Once certification has been awarded, individuals will be required to take two hours of training and testing annually to retain tier one certification. Tier two certification is for anyone who supervises manure application. This level focuses on more advanced training and may include topics like odor management, using GPS in manure application, ethics and regulations. Maintaining tier two certification requires participating in a minimum of four modules over two years and showing proficiency through testing. Tier three is achieved by developing and implementing an environmental management system (EMS) plan. An EMS plan is designed to improve the day-to-day management of farm and for-hire applicator business practices with an emphasis on environmental stewardship.
One of the benefits of a certification program includes a reduction in pollution insurance premiums. Since 2003, the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin (PNAAW) has partnered with the insurance industry to provide discounts for manure applicators who participate in their voluntary certification program. Due to court decisions in 2015 that decreed bacteria was a pollutant, PNAAW spent a year revamping the insurance portion of their certification program. PNAAW initially looked at a group policy, but then opted to go with individual policies in grouped pools based on the program. The new program has a strengthened auditing component by the insurance industry and provides full environmental coverage for $10 million aggregate. The new discounts average 38 percent on all insurance, except workman’s comp, for for-hire applicators. In its first year, the new program saved applicators more than $300,000. Dave Anderson with Vincent Urban Walker and Associates (Green Bay, WI) was a primary architect in designing the revamped insurance component of the certification program. He will provide more details on the insurance premium reductions offered to certified manure haulers and the third party verification process conducted by the insurance industry during the meeting.
While the morning will be spent learning about the manure hauler certification program, the afternoon will be spent learning about the impact of the Lake Erie watershed on Michigan agriculture, getting a regulatory update from the MDEQ and learning about manure handling and storage safety.