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      Old Mission Peninsula wineries and vineyards recognized for pollution prevention practices

      Governor Snyder visited Old Mission Peninsula Friday afternoon to present local wineries and vineyards with recognition for the MAEAP.

      The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program - or MAEAP - is a voluntary program that helps farmers prevent or minimize pollution risks. It's a collaboration between farmers, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), the Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, conservation districts, state and federal agencies, conservation and environmental groups, and universities.

      The program is a three-step process, including learning and understanding the requirements, having a risk-assessment completed, and a farm inspection to make sure all of the specifications are met. It's a multi-year program that allows producers to make farm-specific goals, encompassing three systems (livestock, farmstead, and cropping) to help evaluate the environmental risks of their land use and production. Since each system focuses on a different aspect of a farm, their separate environmental impact can be evaluated and addressed.

      Governor Snyder spoke about the "voluntary commitment to responsible on-farm practices and it's importance regardless of the location, size, or what commodity your farm produces."

      Tree Sturman, the Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Conservation District, stated, "It's not forcing the farmers to do anything-it's allowing them and their values to come through. I think farmers that are up here, they love this place as much as we do, and they want to do their part to keep it beautiful. So this program provides the resources and the tools for them to talk to experts, and sit down and find out what they can do to meet this MAEAP verification - and most of them go above and beyond that."

      The seven wineries and vineyards recognized today were: 2 Lads Winery, Black Star Farms, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery, Chateau Chantal, Chateau Grand Traverse, and Peninsula Cellars.

      Officials hope to continue to see support for this program and the number of verified farms grow.