Ohio considering farm nutrient bill

, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director, corporate communications

Legislation aimed at managing farm nutrients as a means to protecting water resources continues to evolve with Ohio Farm Bureau weighing in at every step of the process.

One provision of S.B. 150 would grant the Ohio Department of Agriculture the authority to develop and implement a certification program for anyone who applies commercial fertilizer over a minimum threshold. ODA would also have authority to revoke the certification.

Current OFBF policy opposes a certification program, but during the on-going policy development process and through OFBF Advisory Teams and farmer meetings, members have provided insight and suggestions on how to engage in the discussion in the event such a program becomes law.

Members have said a certification program should be part of a comprehensive nutrient reduction strategy that addresses all sources of nutrients; it should have adequate funding for research, education, program development and administration; be technology driven; be economically feasible for farmers, and result in meaningful off-site nutrient reductions. ODA’s revocation process should also be clear and limited based on an individual’s violation of the statute.

A second area of emphasis in the bill is the expansion of authority for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to create and approve voluntary nutrient management plans for all forms of nutrients. OFBF policy recommends that all farmers follow the 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles of right source, right rate, right time and right place and also expects all farm operations regardless of size to complete and follow a nutrient management plan. Because Ohio’s farmers recognize their role in taking measures necessary to be good stewards of Ohio’s waterways and land, OFBF continues to advocate for voluntary nutrient management plans.

SB 150 was written largely by the Ohio Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In a recent letter to the sponsors of the bill, OFBF requested additional details from the agencies on more than a dozen aspects of the proposed law. Many of those issues remain to be clarified.

OFBF continues to work with Senate sponsors Cliff Hite and Bob Peterson as well as the agencies in order to meet our shared goal of a nutrient management program that benefits both Ohio’s water and agricultural resources.

For greater detail on the proposed nutrients bill and Ohio Farm Bureau’s views, visit ofbf.org and search SB 150.

Learn more about nutrients and Ohio soils

Ohio Farm Bureau’s second online e-learning unit on water quality/nutrient management is now available for members.This learning module will provide you with a better understanding of the methods for soil sampling, how the soil test results relate to crop fertility recommendations and the steps to take to develop a nutrient management plan. You will be introduced to 4R Nutrient Stewardship, its core concepts and principles. This unit will take about 20 minutes to complete.

The first e-learning unit was made available to members earlier this summer and provided an understanding of Harmful Algal Blooms, conditions causing them and actions to help reduce their occurrence.

Photo by Jodi Miller