Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry, just behind tourism, contributing over $24 billion to the state’s economy. Ottawa and Allegan County sales make up about 13% of total Michigan sales – over $1 billion in agricultural products (44% crop sales, 56% livestock sales). Agriculture preserves a rural character that is attractive to both tourists and residents and agricultural land can be considered greenspace and provides various ecosystem services including wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. And as we have seen over the past few years, Farmers Markets lead the way in environmental sustainability by providing access to healthy, locally-grown produce and other products.
Michigan produces more than 200 agricultural commodities, giving Michigan the second most diverse agricultural industry in the nation just behind California. Ottawa County ranks number 1 in the state for total sales in poultry and eggs and for total sales in nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod (#7 in the nation!) and Allegan County ranks number 1 in the state for total sales in hogs and pigs. The area is also rich is Farm Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Agritourism, with several market and CSA opportunities right within the Macatawa Watershed. The Holland Farmer’s Market is representative of Michigan agriculture with 100s of products available throughout the market season and over 100 vendors on any given Saturday. You can explore the diversity of products and vendors on their website.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are either structural or management strategies that land managers (including farmers) undertake to reduce the potential for pollution to enter our air and waterways. On farms, BMPs include measures to effectively store, use and conserve fertilizers, manure and pesticides, protect the soil from erosion, and filter pollutants out of rainwater runoff. An example of a BMP for fertilizer use is to test the soil to determine the proper amount of fertilizer to apply (this is also a BMP that should be used for lawns!).
Project Clarity will be working with farmers throughout the Macatawa Watershed to promote and implement BMPs that will keep soil and nutrients in the farm fields and out of our waterways. Much of the soil in the Macatawa Watershed is fine textured (silts, loams, clays), which is very easily washed away by rainwater runoff. This can be minimized by the use of BMPs that minimize soil disturbance and protect the soil surface from rainwater. Read more about BMPs used in the Macatawa Watershed here.
An agricultural committee of farmers, agronomists, and business leaders are assisting Project Clarity leadership in promoting and implementing water quality Best Management Practices with farmers. Applications for assistance with any of the following practices will be reviewed and considered by this committee.
Interested applicants can find the submission form and further information here.
What is the value of agriculture to our community?
What are farmers doing to protect water quality?
How does Project Clarity support farmers?