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Farm Bureau supporting restored funding to SWCDs
Buckeye Farm News
Ohio Farm Bureau is supporting provisions in a bill to re-establish full funding for important services that are regularly rendered on behalf of agriculture.
According to OFBF Director of State Policy Beth Vanderkooi, significant cuts in the state budget earlier this year have left Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) short of funding that allows them to fully carry out their mission to “enable Ohioans to conserve, protect, and enhance soil, water and land resources.”
Current Ohio Farm Bureau policy supports an adequate source of program funding for SWCDs. In addition to existing cost-sharing programs for conservation practices, OFBF supports additional state-funded incentives to encourage implementation of these practices.
Mindy Bankey, CEO of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, said cuts included a significant reduction of General Revenue Funding (GRF) in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011.
Senate Bill 155, sponsored by Sens. John Carey, R-Wellston, and Dale Miller, D- Cleveland, contains provisions that would provide additional GRF funding for SWCDs to near-original levels. As of press time, the bill had been introduced and has had two hearings. Other proposals to close the gap in funding include increased fees for waste and tipping fees for out-of-state waste coming into Ohio landfills.
“Services provided through Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts have produced great success stories for farmers who are dedicated to the conservation of natural resources,” Bankey said, outlining the need for SWCDs to be fully funded and operational.
According to Bankey, SWCDs provide assistance to both urban and agriculture land users, specializing in soil erosion prevention and water management. They work directly with farmers through a voluntary cooperative agreement and provide technical assistance that includes survey and design of grass waterways, erosion control structures, surface and subsurface drainage, farm ponds, windbreaks, livestock waste management facilities, spring development for livestock, wildlife management (through wildlife specialists) and other forestry practices.
In addition, SWCDs sponsor education and information programs centered on no-till farming, wildlife and forestry management, pond clinics and other conservation programs.
SWCDs also deliver more than 70 percent of the federal Farm Bill programs offered through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services.
Advisory Council Questions: How will you or members of your council be affected if Soil & Water Conservation District funding is not restored? Please share examples of help you’ve received from your county SWCD. Share your answers on the Ohio Farm Bureau Facebook Advisory Discussion Board.