MAEAP restructuring still a possibility

Michigan lawmakers will decide if the state should restructure the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) during its full appropriations process this summer.

State Senator John Cherry, Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriation Subcommittee Chair, says his committee is recommending moving funding for technicians from local conservation districts to Michigan State University Extension to improve employee retention and farmer confidentiality.

“MSU Extension does have positions that provide benefits, career pathways,” he says. Also, it would allow the Department to manage one contract as opposed to 38 different contracts for the MAEAP program.”

The committee also proposed increased funding for conservation districts and wants to study the role of districts to help with the transition.

House Appropriation’s subcommittee Chair Julie Brixie says concerns raised about the Governor’s proposal to move the positions to the state were also heard in her committee.

“We did see eye to eye on a number of items in these budgets and we left the conservation districts alone,” she says.

Both chambers are proposing to reduce funding for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the next fiscal year by at least 10 percent.

MAEAP is funded by fertilizer and pesticide fees collected by the state which in turn provides grants to conservation districts for technicians to help farmers adopt voluntary environmental stewardship practices.

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