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Nutrient Management bill heads to House
by Callie Wells
Ohio’s water quality and nutrient management bill, Senate Bill 150, introduced by Senators Cliff Hite and Bob Peterson, unanimously passed the Senate Jan. 23. Ohio Farm Bureau testified in support of the bill and made it a “key vote”, as its provisions met Farm Bureau policy.
The bill, as it stands now, will continue the important education of Ohio’s farmers on the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship and serve as a component in the effort to reduce the amount of dissolved phosphorous entering the state’s waterways.
While working for passage of SB 150, Ohio Farm Bureau will continue to support other projects to solve Ohio’s water quality issues including participation in research ventures, supporting funding for university studies. Farm Bureau also is leading industry efforts through Healthy Water Ohio, an initiative that will address broad questions of water quality and quantity for drinking, recreation and commerce. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration. It is expected the House will pass the measure in the next are several weeks.
Here are some of the key elements of the bill:
- Fertilizer applicator certification required for anyone applying fertilizer on 50 or more contiguous acres for the purposes of growing crops and is required to be renewed every three years. The certification will educate an applicant on the time, place, form, amount, handling and application of fertilizer (the 4Rs); serve as part of a comprehensive state nutrient reduction strategy addressing all sources of nutrients; and support generally practical economically feasible best management practices.
- Revocation of a fertilizer applicator certification focuses on bad actors, allowing ODA to suspend the certification of a fertilizer applicator in an emergency situation if the director believes the fertilizer is being applied in a reckless way that causes a clear and present threat to the health of people and animals.
- Requires records to be kept for three years from the date of fertilizer application. The records to be kept are the date of fertilizer application, the place of application, the rate of application, an analysis of the fertilizer and the name of the person applying the fertilizer. Records are NOT to be submitted to ODA but can be reviewed by ODA personnel.
- Voluntary affirmative defense option provides the option that farmers can obtain an affirmative defense to help fight against being sued for applying fertilizer. This means if a farmer that has the affirmative defense is sued for applying fertilizer, that farmer can greatly reduce his or her legal costs by getting the court to issue a favorable decision earlier on in the litigation based on that affirmative defense.
Callie Wells is a communications specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau