Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is part of a nine-member task force that is looking for ways that Ohio’s 88 soil and water conservation districts can more efficiently deliver conservation services.
“We’re looking at how programs and services are currently being delivered. The question is whether we can identify some things that can be done differently to improve efficiencies and be able to have more effective delivery of local conservation programs,” said Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of program innovation and environmental policy.
Ohio House Bill 153 ordered the establishment of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission Conservation Program Delivery Task Force, which started meeting at the end of August. Besides Ohio Farm Bureau, members of the task force include the boards of supervisors of the soil and water conservation districts, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio, Ohio Municipal League and Ohio Township Association.
The task force is scheduled to meet a total of seven times and deliver its report to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission and ODNR’s director by Dec. 31.
Antosch said the task force has been examining background information about how Ohio’s soil and water conservation districts have been funded since the late 1950s and a Battelle report that was commissioned by ODNR. These documents as well as staff presentations provided a starting point for task force discussions.
“We will also be looking at some past experiences from other organizations to see what we can learn from them,” Antosch said. “The reality is that funding to support soil and water conservation districts is reducing. Everyone is hurting for money or losing staff, and we need to figure out a way for Ohio to continue to have an efficient local conservation program.”