Certification Process for Firms
The Michigan Manure Hauler Certification Program is a combination of online and face-to-face training for firms (for-hire manure applicators) coupled with an economic incentive to improve nutrient management plan implementation. If an applicator is unable to read or implement the plan, or is not sufficiently motivated to follow it, errors such as spills, over-applications and applying too close to sensitive resources or in fields not suited for manure application can occur, resulting in nutrient and pathogen loading to surface and groundwater. By providing training for firms on implementing nutrient management plans, proper manure management, and proper manure application methods, risks are reduced and compliance and accountability increase.
The insurance industry is willing to offer significant premium discounts if manure applicators are properly trained and follow through with the program requirements. For example, the Professional Nutrient Applicator Association of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Extension partnered with the insurance industry to create a market-based incentive program to encourage manure applicators to participate in a training and certification program. The insurance industry prefers clients who are proactive and are willing to reward those who go above and beyond the basics with significant savings on their insurance premiums. Insurance industry data showed that “claimable incidences” in participating applicators dropped by 80% in their first three years in the program. Over time, through a proven track record of reduced risk and safer operations, Wisconsin manure applicators have been able to increase the discounts received through the program.
In Michigan the initial insurance premium discount is 5% for achieving Level 1 certification. Continued and enhanced discounts will be based on documentation of inspection and calibration of manure application equipment, training received, and firm manure application plan implementation as outlined in Level 2 and Level 3 of the certification program. An explanation of the three certification levels follows.
Certification Program Goals
- Prevent manure application problems before they occur.
- Increase nutrient management plan implementation.
- Improve professionalism among manure applicators.
- Demonstrate responsible manure application.
- Increase the base level of manure management knowledge of all employees.
Description of Certification Levels
Becoming certified at Level 1 is a two-step process. The first step is completing the Michigan State University Extension online course with a minimum score of 80% correct. Users will have three attempts to achieve the minimum score. Anyone employed by a commercial manure application firm who applies manure or supervises anyone who applies manure, should complete the course for the firm to receive the certification. Successful completion of the course demonstrates that an individual has a minimum level of knowledge and performance on manure spill response, manure management regulations, common sense manure application, and safety. All who complete the course are awarded a certificate.
Once all individuals employed with a firm have successfully completed the course, Michigan Farm Bureau is notified that the firm is ready for a manure application equipment inspection. This begins the second step. A representative from Michigan Farm Bureau will schedule an appointment with the firm for a representative from the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies to come out and inspect all equipment used to apply manure. If the firm’s equipment passes the equipment inspection, the firm is recognized as having achieved the Bronze Level of Performance by Michigan Farm Bureau.
When all required individuals in a firm complete the online course AND the manure application equipment they use passes inspection, a Level 1 certification is awarded. With a Level 1 certification, Farm Bureau Insurance will provide a 5% discount on the liability and personal property sections of the insurance policy.*
To continue to qualify for the Level 1 insurance premium discount and stay certified, those who are certified at Level 1 must attend the annual Manure Management Summit that provides them with the most current manure management information AND the equipment they use to apply manure must pass an equipment inspection. Educational content for the annual meeting includes a regulatory update plus coverage of issues that are relevant to haulers at the time. Successfully passing a test at the conclusion of the meeting indicates competency for another year.
The target audiences for Level 2 are crew supervisors and business owners. Over a 24-month period, crew chiefs and business owners will complete six continuing education hours by attending meetings approved by Michigan State University Extension. These meetings will provide advanced training on a variety of timely topics related to manure hauling, management, and technology. MSU Extension will provide attendance information to Michigan Farm Bureau in order for Michigan Farm Bureau to certify completion of both parts of Level 2.
Firms can work on completing the Silver Level of Performance while accumulating the six CEU credits. The Silver Level of Performance includes the Bronze Level of Performance plus additional inspection points. A representative from Michigan Farm Bureau will schedule an appointment with the firm to inspect equipment used to apply manure. If the firm’s manure application equipment passes the equipment inspection, the firm is recognized as having achieved the Silver Level of Performance by Michigan Farm Bureau.
With a Level 2 certification, Farm Bureau Insurance will continue to provide a 5% discount on the liability and personal property sections of the insurance policy* and an additional bundle of incentives will be provided. Examples of incentives may include holders for daily checklists/EMS plan, magnet for important spill response numbers, SMV signs, etc.
To remain certified at Level 2, crew chief and business owner must receive a minimum of six continuing education credits over an ongoing 24-month period AND the equipment used to apply manure must pass an annual Silver Level of Performance inspection.
The target audience for Level 3 is the firm owner. To achieve Level 3 certification, a firm completes an Environmental Management Systems Plan AND their equipment meets the Gold Level of Performance. With a Level 3 certification, Farm Bureau Insurance will provide a 10% discount on the liability and personal property sections of the insurance policy.*
An Environmental Management Systems Plan reduces risk by implementing regular personnel training, equipment inspection, and equipment maintenance schedules. The Gold Level of Performance includes the Bronze and Silver Levels of Performance plus some additional inspection points. If the firm’s equipment passes the equipment inspection, the firm is recognized as having achieved the Gold Level of Performance by Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies inspectors.
Developing an Environmental Management Systems Plan and completing the Gold Level of Performance can be done in any order; however, the insurance premium reduction will not be awarded until both are completed. Michigan State University Extension educators will work with firms to develop Environmental Management Systems Plans. Inspectors from the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies will approve the completed plans and conduct the Gold Level of Performance inspections.
To remain certified at Level 3, once a year the crew chief and business owner must review their firm’s approved Environmental Management Systems Plan with a Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies inspector AND successfully complete the Gold Level of Performance equipment inspection.
For All Certification Levels:
Manure Management Summit
In addition to a yearly inspection for all levels and the Level 2 & 3 requirements, participants at all levels will need to attend the newly created Manure Management Summit (at a to be determined location in Michigan) hosted by MSU Extension and Michigan Farm Bureau. The Summit will cover regulatory and scientific updates in addition to other information related to manure management. Successfully passing a test at the conclusion of the summit indicates competency for another year. The goal is to help everyone stay current on their manure management knowledge.
The cost of participation in the program is $50 per person per year. This includes the online course that is part of Level 1 and attendance to the Manure Management Summit.
Michigan Farm Bureau: Contact Tess Van Gorder (Ag Ecology Department) at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 323-6711.
MSU Extension: Contact Charles Gould at email@example.com or (616) 994-4547 or Erica Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (989) 875-5233 Ext. 5296 or Sarah Fronczak at email@example.com or (517) 439-9301 Ext. 315.
*For details and questions about the Farm Bureau Insurance discount, please reach out to your local Farm Bureau Insurance Agent. To locate an agent, click here.
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