OFBF responds to high nitrate water warning in Columbus

Residents were told to not give water to infants under 6 months or use the water in baby formula or cereal. People on low nitrate diets and pregnant women also were advised not to use the water.

Two farmer members and staff made themselves available for interviews with the media after farm runoff was cited as a major cause of the problem. City officials said a 3-inch rain event at the end of May in the upper watershed occurred after crops were recently planted and fertilizer applied.

City officials have not been prone to finger pointing, and they said their goal is the same as farmers: to keep fertilizer on fields and out of waterways. It’s been nine years since a similar incident happened in Columbus, indicating farmers and city water managers are doing a good job.

In various TV and newspaper reports, OFBF members and staff made several points:

Farming can’t can’t be weather-proofed. Despite farmers adopting newer nutrient management techniques and technologies and despite two new pieces of state legislation, sometimes Mother Nature wins. Ohio also has been experiencing more frequent and severe storms over the last several years.

Farmers have been following the principles of 4-R Nutrient Stewardship (right source, at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place) and obtaining fertilizer applicator certification after attending classes.

Hundreds of thousands of acres across Ohio have been voluntarily enrolled in conservation programs and are managed using conservation practices.

Nitrate is the primary source of nitrogen, which plants can’t live without.

An abundant supply of food can’t be produced without fertilizer. Farmers are constantly making improvements to keep nutrients in place because it’s the right thing to do and makes economic sense.

Here are six media stories where Ohio Farm Bureau members and staff were quoted:

Callie Wells 

Callie Wells is the director of digital communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.