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What’s going on with water quality at the Statehouse?
by Larry Antosch
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Ohio’s waters, particularly Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys, have caught the attention of many -- including legislators, who are taking an increased interest in water quality and nutrient management in the state.
Legislation regarding nutrient management has been introduced at the Ohio Statehouse, and we have been getting a lot of questions from farmers who want more information about this legislation.
Here is a brief summary I have put together about the legislation and changes it proposes.
SB 150, introduced June 25, would make the following changes to the Ohio Revised Code:
- require a person who applies fertilizer for purposes of agricultural production to be certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture;
- provide for an agricultural nutrient pesticide-use category on commercial and private pesticide applicator licenses; make other changes to the Agricultural Additives, Lime and Fertilizer Law; and
- revise the law governing the abatement of agricultural pollution.
SB 150 can be divided into two distinct sections, one pertaining to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the other pertaining to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
- Highlights of the proposed changes for ODA include the creation of a fertilizer applicator certification program, authority to suspend certification and creation of a agricultural nutrient pesticide-use category.
- Proposed changes for ODNR include expanding the definition of agricultural pollution, defining nutrient management plans, expanding who can develop operation and management plans, protection against the disclosure of a farmers’ proprietary information and restructure of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
You can read full details and access a few FAQs in my white paper here.
Ohio Farm Bureau staff will continue to be engaged as this legislation progresses. We are critically reviewing the proposal, talking with our members and compiling a list of clarifying questions to present to the sponsors of SB 150.
Learn about more efforts by Ohio farmers to improve water quality.
Learn more about the nutrient and water quality issue through our first Water Quality eLearning Unit.
Dr. Larry Antosch is Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of policy development and environmental policy.