Livestock *A* Syst (FAS112)

Livestock *A* Syst (FAS112)

Farmers may use this bulletin to assist in becoming MAEAP verified.

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Introduction

In 2011, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) was codified in law as set forth in P.A. 451, Part 82, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA). The Livestock◆A◆Syst tool is updated annually to incorporate the current MAEAP Standards for this system. The tool also includes applicable Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) established under Michigan Right to Farm. The completed A Syst tool and associated plan and practices meet the requirement of a Conservation Plan, as defined in Part 82 of NREPA and referenced in Part 87 of NREPA. This statute also ensures producer confidentiality for any information provided in connection with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or associated practices and is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

MAEAP provides an excellent opportunity for Michigan farmers to manage their farms proactively and voluntarily to protect and enhance soil and water resources. For livestock producers, the ultimate accomplishment in MAEAP is Livestock System verification. Some producers may elect to pursue immediately the completion of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) and MAEAP Livestock System Verification. However, many producers find that smaller, progressive steps in environmental improvement are more economical and practical.

What is Livestock ◆ A ◆Syst?

The MAEAP Livestock◆A◆Syst is designed to meet the needs of those producers who choose to use a risk management-based assessment to work their way to MAEAP verification via a progressive approach.

The Livestock◆A◆Syst is a series of risk questions and answers about livestock management practices reflecting components of a CNMP. Producers can work one-on-one with a non-regulatory MAEAP partner to identify potential environmental risks and to develop a confidential Livestock Improvement Action Plan to reduce those risks. The action plan is the producer’s plan and can be completed at his or her own pace. There is no deadline.

Producers determine how far and how fast to go. Producers have several options for using Livestock◆A◆Syst:

  1. Complete the risk questions to identify practices that present a high risk of contaminating water resources. At this point, producers may continue using Livestock◆A◆Syst to develop an implementation plan, or they may determine that they want to obtain the services of a certified CNMP provider to help them through the process of developing a plan to implement the desired changes.
  2. Develop a Livestock Improvement Action Plan. Producers may choose to implement the action plan using their own resources, or they may choose to enter into a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract to obtain cost-share assistance. The EQIP contract may include the development of a CNMP.
  3. Complete implementation of the Livestock Improvement Action Plan prepares the producer to develop a CNMP, if that is his or her choice. Livestock farm owners may achieve MAEAP Livestock System verification for their farms either through a completed CNMP or by using a completed Livestock◆A◆Syst, Livestock Improvement Action Plan and records indicating conformance with all boxed areas of the Livestock◆A◆Syst. Owners of farms operating in compliance with a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MDEQ NPDES) permit may also request MAEAP verification. These farms must indicate they meet the standards in Section 13 “Mortality Management and Veterinary Waste Disposal” and Section 14 “Odor Management” of the Livestock◆A◆ Syst, including section 14.01, for Siting GAAMPs verification, if applicable. All other standards for MAEAP verification will be met through the MDEQ NPDES permit review and will not be reviewed for MAEAP verification.The owner of a MAEAP-verified farm is eligible for a variety of incentives. Completion of a Livestock◆A◆Syst verification allows owners of small and medium-sized farms to enjoy the peace of mind knowing that their inspected practices are consistent with the identified current Right to Farm (RTF) Manure Management and Utilization GAAMPS and RTF siting requirements.
  4. Farms that have been verified in the MAEAP Livestock System using a CNMP may complete the Livestock◆ A◆ Syst for reverification.

How Does Livestock ◆ A ◆Syst Work?

  1. The environmental risk questions are grouped into eight sections. Producers select all relevant sections. Not all risk questions will apply to all livestock farms.
    • Sections are:
      • Livestock Improvement Action Plan
      • Whole-farm Nutrient Balance
      • Farm Site Review
      • Silage Storage
      • Drinking Water Well Condition
      • Manure Spreading Plan
      • Conservation Practices for Fields Used for Manure Application
      • Emergency Plan and Employee Training
      • Mortality Management and Veterinary Waste Disposal
      • Odor Management
      • Other Environmental Risks in the Livestock System Risk questions that address management practices that are regulated by the state or federal law indicate illegal practices with black bold print. The numbered footnotes indicate what regulation(s) is (are) violated. (See Table 1, on page 40.)

Risk questions that address management practices included in the Manure Management GAAMPs indicate the management level required for consistence with the identified current GAAMPs with blue bold italic print. 

Finally, a blue box indicates the management level(s) required for MAEAP verification.

MAEAP management requirements are aligned with state and federal regulations, the Michigan Right to Farm GAAMPs and environmentally based management practices that are supported by research. The records and/or plans that indicate the approved management practices have been implemented on the farm are listed in the column next to the risk question. This evidence will provide the basis for awarding environmental assurance through MAEAP.

2. Producers answer each risk question by selecting the statement that best describes conditions on their farm. The risk question answers indicate whether management practices have a low, medium or high risk of pollution. As noted above, some questions are coded to indicate consistence with GAAMPs or violation of state law.

3. After completing each section, producers list the practices that present a high risk of contaminating water resources in the Livestock Improvement Action Plan. (The plan begins inside the front cover of the bulletin.) Medium risks are also included that do not meet MAEAP requirements.

4. In the Livestock Improvement Action Plan, producer’s list alternative practices, structures or equipment that they plan to use to help reduce risks, and sources of technical and financial assistance. A target date is included for accomplishing the changes as well as a target date for MAEAP verification.

5. Participation in an approved MAEAP Phase 1 educational session is also required for the initial MAEAP verification.

After developing and implementing a Livestock Improvement Action Plan to address the risks indicated by the Livestock◆A◆Syst, producers may contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to request a farm inspection by calling 517-284-5609. An MDARD inspector will schedule a visit at the producer’s convenience. 

Confidential Assistance

Participating farmers are offered confidential, one-on-one guidance through the risk assessment process. Confidential assistance is offered by members of MAEAP’s non-regulatory partner organizations, including local conservation districts, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) and the Michigan Milk Producers Association. Producers may indicate which organization they would prefer to work with or may contact the MAEAP office at 517-284-5609.

Assistance is available to help producers in a variety of ways, including:

  • Guide producers through the Livestock◆ A◆ Syst assessment process.
  • Help producers understand MAEAP and other environmental expectations.
  • Identify farm-specific areas of concern and opportunities related to environmental stewardship.
  • Set farm-specific areas of concern and opportunities related to environmental stewardship.
  • Set farm-specific goals, timelines, and plans for improving and sustaining good environmental stewardship.
  • Identify the appropriate resource persons to assist in the completion of specific steps toward environmental improvement.

No Obligation

Completing the Livestock◆A◆Syst does not obligate the farmer to specific changes. Farmers can progress as far as they feel comfortable or to meet individual farm goals. Note that some circumstances (e.g., Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation [CAFO] designations, some Environmental Quality Incentives Program [EQIP] requirements and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality [MDEQ] enforcement actions) require farms to implement a CNMP and/ or other farm practice changes more quickly.

A Few Final Words

The key to Livestock◆A◆Syst is that once producers have identified environmental risks, the plan is implemented to reduce the risk(s). Some of the stewardship practices that will reduce risks may cost very little and take very little time to implement.

Other practices may involve additional cost and may not be implemented for a few years. It is important, however, to have a plan to follow. Producers who have developed a plan and implemented changes to address the risks are ready to consider MAEAP verification of their Livestock System.

Points of Reference 

The Michigan Right to Farm Act authorizes the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop and adopt GAAMPs for farms and farm operations in Michigan. These voluntary practices are based on available technology and scientific research and promote sound environmental stewardship. The current Right to Farm GAAMPs are posted on the MDARD Web site: www.michigan.gov/mdard.

P.A. 451 of 1994, Part 82, ensures the confidentiality of the producer information that farmers provide to the MDARD for system verification. Any information connected with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or conservation practice is confidential.

Tools in the Livestock ◆ A◆ Syst Supplement (FAS112S)

Animal Waste Management (AWM). AWM is a planning/design tool for animal feeding operations that can be used to estimate the production of manure, bedding and process water, and determine the size of storage/ treatment/facilities. The procedures and calculations used in AWM are based on the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook.

Bodies of Dead Animals Act (BODA) Recordkeeping Forms. These forms provide the necessary documentation for both composting and burial of mortalities. These forms are found at http://www.maeap.org and in the MSUE bulletin “Recordkeeping System for Crop Production,” E-2342.

Manure Management: Getting Started. This nutrient balance worksheet is a tool to determine farm land base sustainability. Found at www.maeap.org.

Manure Storage Review Sheets. This evaluation checklist assists in determining proper storage construction and notes if the structure can be verified. Found at www.maeap.org.

Odor Management Plan. This plan has been developed to address odors associated with livestock operations. Information on an odor management plan can be found at http://www.maeap org a.nd msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/odor_ management_plans.

Proper Disposal of Dead Animal Carcasses Worksheet. This worksheet helps evaluate proper disposal of dead animal bodies and compliance with the BODA. Found at www.maeap.org.

Silage Leachate Management. This information provides tips for reducing silage leachate and associated risks. Find in the CNMP Guidance Document, question 7, at http://www.maeap.org

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