Why Farmers Should Hire Manure Applicators who are Certified through the Michigan Manure Hauler Certification Program

March 21, 2022

More Info

The Michigan Manure Hauler Certification Program is a voluntary training program that helps prevent manure application problems before they occur through increased nutrient management plan implementation and responsible manure application. The certification program creates a clear pathway for farms and for-hire manure applicators (firms) to move from training, to certification, to third party audit - incentivized by reductions in insurance premiums - without implementing a mandatory program. The certification program has three levels. This presentation will explain what the certification program is and why farmers will want to hire manure applicators who are certified through the Michigan Manure Hauler Certification Program.

Presentation concepts include:

  • What is the Manure Hauler Certification Program?
  • Certification levels
  • Advantages of hiring a certified manure applicator
  • Certification program website resources
  • Michigan Manure Management Summit

The 2022 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With conference will be held virtually, February 28-March 31, 2022. It will be a month-long program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offer a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. While there is no cost to participate, attendees must register to receive the necessary zoom links. Registrants can attend as many sessions as they would like and are also able to jump around between tracks. RUP and CCA credits will be offered for several of the sessions. More information can be found at:'https://www.canr.msu.edu/miagideas/

Video Transcript

 All right. Well, welcome everyone to this installment of Michigan AG ideas to grow it today. Hi, Tess Van Gorder and I are going to give a presentation on why should you hire manure applicators who are certified through Michigan manure haulers certification program. I'm going to let Tess introduce herself in just a minute, but suffice it to say that she's from Michigan Farm Bureau and I'm with Michigan State University Extension. I'm housed in Ottawa County. I have statewide responsibility for renewable energy and energy conservation as a result, as it applies to agriculture, but also have a foot in the manure management arena with the Michigan manure haulers certification program. So we hope that this is a value to you. and fill that out. So with that Tess, I'm going to throw it over to you and we'll get this thing started. Sounds good Charles. No worries. So as Charles said, my name is Tess Van Gorder and I am a conservation and regulatory relations specialists at Michigan Farm Bureau, which is a lot of words to say, I work on environmental issues, whether it's voluntary programs like the Michigan manure haulers certification program or assist farmers when they run into regulatory issues with things like groundwater discharge formatting. So I will be taking the first half of the presentation and so we'll go over what the Michigan Manure Haulers certification program is. The different levels, touch on the Michigan manure management summit. And then Charles, will touch on programs, next steps. And then why you should hire a certified applicator. And then we'll end with our contact information and time for questions. And if you have questions throughout the presentation, feel free to put those in the chat. And we just like to start with that. The Michigan Manure Haulers Certification Program is a partnership between the Michigan Farm Bureau family of Compaies and Michigan State University Extension. And it's a great partnership where, you know, we all work together to put on this program from the insurance discount to the online course. So we've been working together for a few years to get this program launched so we're excited to bring this to you. So what is the Michigan manure haulers certification program? So this is a newer program and this is a training program for anyone who applies or hauls manure. And it has an economic incentive for that, improved nutrient management plan implementation. And this is a way for applicators, whether you're a farm or commercial hauler, to move from training certification to third party audits without implementing a mandatory program. So again, this is a voluntary program. To show that, you know, the industry is taking care of themselves, and is implementing in essence, a risk management program. So this is meant to reduce risk of a spill happening because that's really the last thing anyone wants on the road. So the goals, like I just said, prevent newer application problems, increase nutrient management plan implementation. Demonstrate responsible manure application. Increase that base level of manure management knowledge. Then to improve professionalism among manure applicators. And all these tie into each other and tie into the different levels of the certification program. So there's three levels and just to kind of help keep things, how I like to think about it or keep it straight in my head, there's always going to be two parts to each level. And one of those parts is always an equipment inspection from someone from the Farm Bureau Family of companies. So for level one there is an online course on MSU's platform, desire to learn. And this is really just to make sure everyone has the minimum knowledge of manure spill response, manure management regulations, manure application and safety. And so you'll go through that course and you have, you know, plenty of attempts to get that minimum score of 80 percent. And then you'll have an inspection by the Farm Bureau Family of Companies. And something I like to emphasize is that so someone will come out from, you know, you'll work with me to arrange that. And then, you know, this is not meant to be a trick question. So this is a voluntary program. Meant to reduce risk. And then to reduce those risk of no manure incident happening either in the field or in the road. And so even though inspection is kind of an intimidating word, our checklist of what folks will be looking for is on our website. So you can always go on and you'll be able to see the different buckets that these folks are going to come look at, you know, and you can be prepared for that. So this first inspection is kind of that base level of performance that, you know, your equipment will need to meet. And then if you get certified with Level 1. There is a 5% insurance discount for your liability and farm personal property sections of farm policy. If you have Farm Bureau insurance Level two, we've, You know, we know that farmers and especially farmers work on a lot of different voluntary programs. So there's two options. So if you're a farm, you have the option to become or be currently verified in the livestock system of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program or the MAEAP program, or you have the option to complete six hours of continuing education, approved by MSU over a two-year period. So it's important to note that both of these still have that second level of inspection. So that'll be your bronze level. So that first level inspection plus some additional inspection points. And the benefits of level two. You can go to the next slide, Charles. So the MAEAP verification and livestock system. That option is only available for farms. But the great part about integrating MAEAP into this program is that one, it kind of reduces a step for you. For level 2 if you are either have already received or pursue or pursuing a MAEAP verification. But then you'll also have about like 90 to 95 percent of level three to create an environmental management system plan for that level  three certification. And so that's really why we wanted to kind of gel these two programs together to help make things easier for those you participating in multiple voluntary programs. So in the levels, two we'll still have that 5 percent discount and then some additional bundle of incentives for, will be provided as well. Then lastly, level 3, as I just mentioned, it'll involve the creation of environmental management system plan. And so this is really kind of overall plan for your operation to reduce risk. To say, okay, here's how we're going to do personnel training, here's how we're going to do our own equipment inspections. Here's our maintenance schedules, Here's our environmental goals for operation. And MSU Extension is available to help you do that. And then you'll have of course, another inspection and that'll be your highest level of inspection. So you'll meet the same criteria you met in level 1 and 2 and then those additional inspection points, this is the highest level and therefore gets the highest insurance discount policy. So that'll be 10 percent discount on the liability in farm personal property sections. And to remain certified, you'll need to go through regular inspection. And this is one thing I do like to note is that if you look at this and say, well, I think level ones the best-fit or level two, you don't necessarily you don't have to go to level three. We definitely would encourage that, but if it's not the right fit for your operation, we'll work with you to see what where you want to stay. So you'll get a yearly inspection at whatever level you're at. And we ask that you attend the manure management Summit, which we'll talk about shortly. And then also Level 2 and 3 requirements is appropriate. So meaning either Maintaining your MAEAP  verification or those continuing education units. And then once your EMS plan is done, we'll review that with you yearly to maintain your level three certification. And I will turn over Charles now. All right. So everything that Tess is presented is on our website here and if you've got a phone with, what do you call that? A QR code is that with that is Tess, What's that called? So that's the QR code. So you use your smartphone, you should be able to aim your camera on a link should pop up. Yeah, so I'll leave it there for just a minute if you want to do that. Otherwise, you can do a Google search for Michigan manure haulers Certification Program. And the website should pop up, should be the top of your of your results. So all the details, all the checklists, like Tess said there's no secrets here. We're not trying to pull a fast one on anybody. We want to be completely transparent. So that farmers and commercial manure applicators know exactly what is going to be asked of them and in order to become certified. So we have quite a number of people that are moving through the system right at this point. Very happy about that. We just completed the the Michigan Manure Management Summit. What 2-3 weeks ago, I guess now. And the summit is, is a very, very important. It's really tied into our, our certification program. At the summit. This opportunity to network with other manure applicators and agencies. It's really, anybody can attend even if they're not participating in the certification program. But the things that are, are presented that the topics that are presented at this summit are specifically designed to help those who are certified, keep their certification, keep them abreast of new information. Really help keep them on the cutting edge. So as it states there, the goal is to provide attendees with science, regulatory and technological updates and other helpful information related to manure management. So the 2023 date hasn't been set, but it'll be early in 2023. We held it in February this year. We'll we're going to shoot for probably a January date of 2023, but that date hasn't been set yet. So in terms of next steps, I wanted to make you aware of this, that what we have right now really targets liquid manure. And in Michigan, the, the bulk of manure that's, that's applied is liquid manure. However, we have a fair amount of wet solids that is applied and we have a lot of dry solids. Horse manure, poultry manure in particular that's applied. And so we are currently working on wet solid and dry solid modules that we'll follow. The same type of that will be inserted in our certification program. I just got the modules. The modules were just sent over from Wisconsin and they're here now. We're reviewing them and we anticipate that or let me rephrase that. So there are here in Michigan and they're being formatted and they will undergo a review process and be ready and uploaded by December of this year. So that should complete the in terms of types of manure that should complete the certification program. So I want to spend some time here really addressing this question of why should I hire certified applicator? And this is a really, really important question for a farmer to consider. Because they have, a farmer has a number of options. So the first thing to consider here is the fact that they're professionals. So when you hire a commercial manure applicator that has gone through the certification program. They are considered professionals. They have made them they've improved their ability to manage your manure. Certified applicators treat manure as an asset and not a liability. And that makes all the difference in the world. I've been around long enough to see that. When you that that, you know, the the The, the tendency, Let's put it that way. The tendency is to apply commercial fertilizer and manure at the same time. And because manure is an asset, has nutrient value, has organic matter, has beneficial microorganisms. When it's managed correctly. Manure then can reduce the fertilizer expenses that a farm would incur. And especially now with commercial fertilizer as expensive as it is, manure has a definite role. So that's another reason to apply a commercial manure applicator who is certified because of the attitude that they have, but it's an asset and they're going to treat it accordingly. Now, as Tess mentioned earlier, minor spills are going to happen. That's just a reality. There are things that are going to happen. The certification program puts in place the way we teach and we teach and we teach that prevention. That you do all the things that, that are possible to prevent a manure spill. But we also know that manure spills happen. And so part of this certification program is that if it does occur, they know how to manage it. So you limit the environmental impact of that manure spill. And that's very valuable because if manure gets into a waterway, waterway of the state and results in a fish kill. That's a very expensive a bill to pay. So you're, when you hire someone who's certified through the Michigan manure haulers certification program, you are getting someone who knows how to prevent a minor spill. And if a mionr spill should happen, knows how to handle it, how to manage it. And this is, this is really a, a big one. You know, we've got manure application equipment that can can damage, can cause injury and can cause death. Exploding lines and a Dragos system, for example, can do some serious damage to a person who's standing next to where the line broke. So it's not only the equipment that the application equipment, but it's also the fact that manure produces gases that can take lives. And every year we see the effects of people who inhale manure gases and die as a result. And so the certification program provides training for commercial manure applicators who are certified on how to be safe around manure application equipment and around manure storage structures. It always seems like manure application draws an audience. And sometimes the audience is just simply curious about what goes on when manures applied. Other times that audience has ulterior motives. And so the certification provides training for manure applicators on how to handle audiences who have intentions that are not sincere. Being able to answer questions properly. Understanding who should do this, who should speak on behalf of the for hire firm or on behalf of the farm, is part of this certification program training that we offer. The equipment inspection is a really critical part of the certification program. We can certify someone and give them the knowledge on how to apply manure. But if the equipment isn't functioning properly and it's not applying manure properly or the spreaders are not calibrated, for example. Or there's breakdowns in the equipment that cause less or more manure to be applied, then, you know, all the knowledge in the world doesn't do any good because the manures being applied at the wrong rate. So manure application equipment inspections on an annual basis are critical in the certification program. And so those who are certified understand that. And they they'll take it a step further. And when they, before the day starts, they have a checklist that they go through just to make sure the equipment is ready to go for that day. So this is a benefit that you get when you hire someone who is certified through the Michigan Manure Haulers Certification Program. One thing that you can consider is as a farmer, you don't have to invest in manure application equipment, so you can use that, you can use that investment for other things. You don't have machinery that is not being utilized over the year. So a consideration then to something to consider is this investment that you would have or wouldn't have depending on the  manure application equipment on your farm. The cost of applying manure may be cheaper. And I want to say may be cheaper. I have really encouraged farmers who have manure application equipment to really look at their true cost. Many farmers don't consider the the labor cost in applying manure and so that they don't put a value on their time. And when they don't put a value on their time, then manure application is cheaper than hiring someone commercially to do that. But when you factor in the cost, the labor cost, then most of the time, hiring a commercial manure applicators going to be cheaper. And so when you think about it, if it's, if you can apply your manure at cheaper rate and you get all the benefits that I've listed so far. It makes a very strong argument for hiring someone who is certified through the Michigan Manure Haulers Certification Program. And this is related to the previous bullet point that you don't have the investment in time and labor, so you can have your labor doing, your employees working on other issues around the farm rather than haul manure. I want to point out that our sponsors for the MI Ag Ideas to Grow With are Greenstone Farm Credit and the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. We'd like to thank them for their financial support of the Michigan Ag Ideas to Grow With. Also want to point out that our programs from Michigan State University Extension are open to all. And as promised, contact information here. We invite you to reach out and ask us questions. Contact us if there are things that you don't understand. We're absolutely willing to answer questions. And I look forward to visiting with you on your farm. And with that, we got such a small group here. If you want to unmute yourself and answer, ask a question, you're certainly welcome to. I have a questions, how do you find a list of the  certified haulers? So right now on the website, there's a link to certified haulers. So we we actually started this this is we're going into our second year with this program. Last year was our full year. So we have we have one farm that's certified and then another farm who is a commercial manure applicator who also has a commercial manure applicator business that are certified. But we have like I said earlier, we have slew of folks that are working through level one that we anticipate will be certified within the next couple of months. Are most of those in  lower Michigan, do you know or are there any in upper Michigan? In the UP? Yes. There are no commercial manure applicators that I'm even aware of in the UP. Okay. That's an area that somebody needs to get into. I agree. I agree. Any other questions? Tess is there anything you want to add to what was said? Any thoughts that came? I don't think so. Okay. Well, I will I will let you go. Then. Thanks for coming. And again, we're always willing to talk and answer questions. So feel free to contact us.