Hubbardston farm receives MAEAP livestock award

Posted by Daily News • Last Updated 10:25 am on Wednesday, December 26 2012

Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) verifier Joe Kelpinski is pictured with newly verified R&B Farm owner Dick Divelbiss in Hubbardston. — Courtesy photo

HUBBARDSTON — The Ionia Conservation District would like to congratulate Richard and Beverly Divelbiss of R&B Farm in Hubbardston, on receiving verification under the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for livestock practices.

Several years ago Dick and Bev began raising natural, grass-fed beef cattle on their pasture-covered farm just east of Palo in Ionia County. Their cattle of choice is the Belted Galloway — a hardy breed that adjusts well to the cold winter climate of Michigan. Set apart by the distinctive white belt around their midsection, these black (sometimes red) and white cattle are commonly known as “belties.”

As former students at Michigan State University (Dick is a retired employee of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), they have a strong tie to agriculture in Michigan and are dedicated to producing healthy grass-fed beef under low-stress and environmentally sustainable conditions. The farm’s successful MAEAP verification is a reflection of that commitment.

MAEAP is a voluntary, non-regulatory program that helps farmers prevent or minimize pollution in cost-effective and sustainable ways. Created in 1998, the MAEAP program is a cooperative effort between the Michigan Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Michigan Association of Conservation Districts and MSU Extension.

To become verified, producers work with a local technician to adopt environmentally sound land management practices. Technicians work one-on-one with producers to complete environmental risk assessments and make any changes that would be necessary should they choose to pursue verification.

There are three different systems in which producers can be verified: farmstead, cropping and livestock. The lLivestock system focuses on assessing whole-farm nutrient balance, farm site review, manure spreading plan, conservation practices on fields used for manure application, emergency plan and employee training, mortality management, veterinary waste disposal and odor management.

Individuals interested in asking Dick and Bev about their experience with verification in the MAEAP program, or those interested in purchasing beef from R&B Farm are asked to contact them at (989) 637-4149.

For more information on MAEAP or other conservation programs, contact local technician Rachel Koleda, at the Ionia Conservation District at (616) 527-2620 ext. 113 or by email at

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