Sharp: Farmers are working to address nutrient runoff issues

Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp was invited to testify today before a United States Senate committee on the conservation partnerships and programs Ohio farmers have voluntarily participated in for the benefit of water quality and environmental sustainability.

“The environmental challenges we face in Ohio are well documented, particularly related to nutrient issues and water quality,” Sharp said in his testimony. “I am proud of how focused Ohio’s farmers are in working to address nutrient runoff issues.”

Sharp’s testimony was included as part of an overall hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He and others spoke to conservation measures, particularly as they relate to the most recent farm bill. He also stressed the importance of voluntary, working lands conservation programs.

Senators who serve on the committee were seeking direction as work on the 2018 Farm Bill intensifies. Sharp spoke at the committee hearing about conservation efforts farmers have undertaken both individually and as part of larger, collective initiatives.

“Between 2006 and 2012, (farmers) have voluntarily reduced phosphorous applications in the Western Lake Erie Basin by more than 13 million pounds,” Sharp reported, quoting from a study completed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “As farmers are stepping up to implement conservation practices now, they are committed to finding additional solutions in the future.”

Ongoing conservation projects mentioned included the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network partnership between OFBF and NRCS, as well as conservation tools provided through the farm bill such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

Sharp also highlighted the partnership among Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio AgriBusiness Association and others that joined together with USDA-NRCS to fund a project of over $2 million to conduct edge of field research throughout the state to better learn how to prevent nutrients from escaping from fields as well as the Healthy Water Ohio initiative.

“These programs would not have been possible without the financial commitment of farm bill dollars along with the significant matching investment by Ohio’s farmers,” Sharp said.