Protecting and Improving Our Great Lakes

Water quality has always been the subject of a special focus in Michigan because of our proximity to the Great Lakes. When it comes to protecting and improving the Great Lakes, and all lakes and streams in the state, Michigan agriculture has shown a commitment to bring proactive solutions to the table.
This is important, because focus continues to grow on water quality concerns. In August 2014, the shutdown of the Toledo drinking water supply shined a light on water quality issues in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. Many different factors played a role in the harmful algae bloom that impacted the Toledo water supply – including outdated municipal wastewater facilities, malfunctioning sewer systems, climate change and invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels.
Agriculture also played a role, and the Toledo situation served as a wake-up call that water quality will remain a critical part of the conversation for years to come. 
While we know there is no magic bullet that will solve water quality concerns in the Great Lakes region, it’s critical that agriculture partner with others to keep making progress.  We know that as an industry, we must continue to be proactive.
The Agricultural Leaders of Michigan support a holistic, multi-layered approach to protecting and improving our Great Lakes, and we support efforts to increase the use of techniques in production agriculture that are shown to improve water quality.
Michigan leads the United States in the percentage of farm acres using precision agriculture technology. We support the ongoing use of site-specific agriculture to optimize nutrient use and reduce runoff from crop production.
We support the use of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Strategy on farms across Michigan. This plan calls for proper planning and training to place fertilizer from the right source, on the right location, at the right time and right place.
Dairy and pork producers across Michigan have partnered with state government by supporting the requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for large livestock operations.  We support and encourage the voluntary development of nutrient management plans for any livestock operation, as well as the requirement for NPDES for large operations currently outlined in statute.
We support partnerships with those outside of agriculture. In addition to the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, our industry should continue to partner with businesses, communities, nonprofit organizations and government to seek new, proactive water quality solutions.