The Ohio House and Senate are fast-tracking legislation dealing with water quality issues. This week the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which calls for a ban on the application of fertilizer and livestock manure to frozen, snow-covered and saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin and has other water quality-related measures. The House is working on a similar bill.
Farm Bureau supports the concept of these nutrient application restrictions but is concerned about how many and to what level some small and medium livestock farms would be affected. Ultimately Farm Bureau would like to include in either water quality bill the ability of farmers to come into compliance with the restrictions. Specifically, OFBF would like the legislation to take into consideration that farmers need sufficient time to secure credit and funding sources to put in new or expanded infrastructure needed to store manure or to purchase equipment. For storage facilities, time will be needed to develop engineering plans, conduct surveys and finish building.
Providing outreach and education for farmers about these new standards also will take time. In addition, farmers will need sufficient time to seek assistance from their local soil and water conservation district or qualified entity, and appropriate funding should be allocated to those agencies.
A summary of Senate Bill 1 and other state and federal bills Farm Bureau is monitoring can be found in this legislative wrap-up.