Putting The Farm Bill To Work
the Farm Bill to Work” in Michigan has increased the ability
of specialty crop producers in Michigan— apple,
and nursery crops—to
make use of federal conservation programs in applying practices
that reduce pesticide risk and conserve natural resources. The project
was a cooperative effort with Michigan State University IPM Program,
Cherry Marketing Institute, Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, Michigan
Nursery and Landscape Association, Michigan Apple Committee and
Gerber Products. The project demonstrated that well executed partnership
efforts can make a dramatic increase in grower participation in
conservation programs in support of greater use of environmentally
sound farming practices.
increase grower awareness began in the summer and fall 2004 with
the creation of feature length articles, produced by the MSU IPM
Program, highlighting participation in EQIP by fruit, vegetable,
and nursery growers. The articles were included in Fruit Grower
News, Vegetable Grower News, Farmer Advance,
the Gerber Newsletter to growers, and Michigan Landscape
(publication of Michigan Landscape and Nursery Association), and
Michigan Apple News (which ran two articles). Versions
of the information piece describing EQIP opportunities and the guide
“Success with EQIP” were created to be specifically
relevant to nursery and apple growers and their unique production
As a result
of these efforts, a further increase in grower knowledge and interest
about EQIP occurred in the four counties involved in the 2004 project.
As measured by surveys conducted at winter grower meetings, the
percentage of growers who indicated that they knew how to apply
to EQIP increased from 45% in 2004 to 56% in 2005, and the percentage
of growers interested in applying had increased from 64% to 78%.
In the counties newly included in education and awareness efforts,
a higher percentage of growers indicated awareness of EQIP than
a similar group of growers in 2003. In those other counties, 60%
of growers stated that they were aware of or had heard about EQIP.
winter, the consultants provided assistance to growers in understanding
the application process, developing conservation plans and applying
to EQIP. They were able to help growers take advantage of an increased
incentive payment rate for pest management practices set at $60.00/acre
for fruit, vegetable and nursery crops with a cap of $5500/farm/year.
Mason, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Antrim and Benzie counties numbers
indicate that 34 of the growers to whom they provided assistance
have received contracts covering 7183 acres of cropland. The practices
applied by those growers include pest management, nutrient management,
cover crops, filter strips, windbreaks, and agricultural containment
facilities. In these counties alone growers have received
contracts totaling $3 million dollars over the past two years.
In Kent and Ottawa counties 11 apple growers submitted applications
including 870 acres with the assistance of CAP’s consultant.
For nursery crops, in Ottawa County, 6 nursery growers have submitted
applications with assistance from a CAP consultant. Finally as a
result of the heightened interest among grape growers, according
to NRCS, has resulted in a dozen new applications from grape growers
in Berrien and Van Buren counties.
project made its experiences available to audiences at the national
level. An article was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology,
The Case and Opportunity for Public-Supported Financial Incentives
to Implement Integrated Pest Management [97(6): 1782-1789 (2004)].
Testimony was also submitted for the House Agriculture Committee
Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research
Hearing on June 15, 2004, Regarding Implementation of the Conservation
Title of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Both
of these documents discussed the lessons learned from the Michigan
work and set out the continuing challenges.
Through this project we have demonstrated that it is possible to
make changes in the NRCS procedures that increase opportunities
for specialty crop producers. We have also seen that persistent
efforts to raise awareness and improve grower knowledge can lead
to increased grower use of conservation practices.