Counties: Allegan, Barry, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch.
What do you do as a verifier?
I get to recognize some of the best producers in the world for their environmental excellence. When I can’t do that, I get to work with them to reach their goals.
How do you help farmers?
I help farmers by providing a fresh, objective view to help reduce environmental issues. I love helping to solve problems for farmers and businesses while protecting the environment.
Why do you enjoy your job?
We have a great partnership with many talented people and organizations. We get to work with the best farms with a common goal in mind. Every day I get to learn something new and share that information with others.
Josh is a graduate of Western Michigan University where he studied Hydrogeology and Environmental Resource Management. In 1998 he started work with the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program and later the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).
Josh’s fourth-great-grandmother was Oshauguscodaywayqua, a Chippewa woman who worked on behalf of the Michigan Tribes. Josh is a proud resident of Lawton, Michigan, home of the famous juice maker Welch Foods Inc. and Honee Bear Canning. He is also a member of the Lawton Fire Department and the Village Council.
On March 29, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s opinion answers the concerns of farmers across Michigan who questioned whether the Right to Farm (RTF) Act and Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) outweigh local ordinances. The answer is “Yes.”
Schuette released a written opinion on the RTF Act, which states that any local laws or rules that attempt to undermine the RTF Act and GAAMPs are not valid.
“It is my opinion, therefore, that unless otherwise approved under sections 4(7), 4(6) of the Right to Farm Act preempts provisions in ordinances adopted by local units of government that regulate farming activities when the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed generally accepted agricultural and management practices (GAAMPs) that address those farming activities.” Attorney General Bill Schuette Opinion
The RTF Act 93 of 1981 was created to protect farmers from nuisance issues, giving them a probable legal defense if the farmer followed GAAMPs. Unfortunately, local ordinances enacted by townships and county governments began to impede farming activities covered under the RTF Act and GAAMPs.To address this issue, the legislature added additional language to the act. This language inserted a very clear “preemption of local ordinance,” which means that the RTF Act and GAAMPs would supersede local rules.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) uses the Right to Farm Act to respond to complaints about specific farm activities and to review farm operations at a farmer’s request. Program staff evaluates whether a farmer is following the GAAMPs.
RTF program staff are also available to answer any questions or participate in outreach activities to help farmers, neighbors, and local government officials understand the RTF Act. The program office can be reached at 1-877-632-1783.
Murray D. Stall II, our Mason-Lake MAEAP Technician, died January 20, 2018, at Miami Valley Hospital in Ohio. Murray, 83, lived in Bear Lake, Michigan, and worked at the Mason-Lake Conservation District for more than 22 years.
“Murray was a wealth of institutional knowledge, whether it be technical on-farm fixes or with the MAEAP program,” said Dani McGarry, Executive Director of the Mason-Lake Conservation District. “It wasn’t always easy to pry that information out of him, but if you gave him a piece of chocolate cake, he’d educate you on just about anything. Above all else, his priority was always to protect groundwater by helping out the farmers in our community.”
“Murray exemplified dedication to the agricultural community and the environment,” said MAEAP Program Manager Joseph Kelpinski. “He loved helping farmers address resource concerns while making sure that the farms did it in a way that worked for them in their system. With Murray, it was always about the people and relationships. He built lasting friendships with his producers, and those friendships created the trust that allowed him to be so successful in implementing conservation practices in his area. He was a friend to agriculture, the environment, and his community. He will be greatly missed.”
Murray attended Michigan State University (MSU) for two years before going to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After retiring from the USDA in 1988, he went to work for the Mason-Lake Conservation District. Murray worked more than 65 years in soil and water conservation.