Lake-Erie-water-quality

**UPDATE: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights appearing on the Toledo special election ballot Feb. 26. Here is a Jan. 29 Legal with Leah update from Leah Curtis.

You could be sued by Lake Erie, or more precisely, by any resident of Toledo who wants to speak for the lake and finds fault with the way you’re farming or doing business.  

It sounds incredible, but the threat is real enough that Farm Bureau is engaged in the legal maneuvering.  

Farm Bureau Policy Counsel Leah Curtis explains that a proposed amendment to the Toledo City Charter may be on the ballot during a special election Feb. 26. The measure would give Lake Erie and its watershed legal standing in court and allow any Toledo citizen to represent the lake and file lawsuits on its behalf.

The rights this measure would grant the lake include, “an ability to exist, flourish, be free from pollution” and other broadly described entitlements.  Any farming practice that allegedly infringes on these rights presumably makes the farmer subject to a lawsuit. Farmers, businesses and government entities in the Lake Erie Watershed could be at risk of being sued.

Lake activists attempted this last fall, she said, but the board of elections refused to put it on the ballot based on court instructions. Since then, new legal precedent led the board of elections to allow the measure to go to a vote Feb. 26.

The issue potentially impacts all Ohioans as this case could establish law that applies statewide.

 

Stay updated on court actions and other aspects of this developing story in upcoming editions of the Buckeye Farm e-Newsletter, available to Farm Bureau member.

LEBOR target map

Regulation through litigation

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) is an example of a growing trend toward regulation through litigation. Aggrieved parties who have been unable to create public policy through the legislative process are turning to lawsuits as a means of getting their way. This tactic is also expensive, requiring additional time and legal fees for agricultural groups to counter in the courts.

“They’re hoping to get a friendly judge or jury to override lawmakers and rule writers,” said OFBF Senior Director of National and State Policy Jack Irvin.

“Bypassing the legislative process isn’t a thoughtful way to govern, but we’re seeing it more and more,” he said.

Policy Counsel Leah Curtis also offered sound advice.

“A good rule of thumb is when you’re presented with a petition from someone to sign, make sure you understand it, make sure you actually look at the language,” she said. “We hear from people all the time who say they didn’t know that’s what they were signing.”

Online Extra

Listen to more on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights on Legal with Leah

See a map of the target area for Lake Erie Bill of Rights lawsuits

Ohio Farm Bureau membership

 

Farm Bureau is an incredible organization that has given me countless professional development opportunities in addition to advocating for all sizes and types of farmers.
Shana Angel's avatar
Shana Angel

Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau

If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington, D.C.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
Through its policies it brings together people in the agricultural community and invests in building vibrant communities that support agriculture.
Eric Bernstein 's avatar
Eric Bernstein

Wyandot County Farm Bureau

Future employees, leaders
If you have issues with local planning or have legal questions, someone at the Farm Bureau has the answer for you, or they’ll connect you with someone who does.
Gayle Hansen's avatar
Gayle Hansen

Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau

Hansen's Greenhouse
As a member of Farm Bureau, I am glad that this organization takes action when necessary to protect and advance agriculture.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Policy Development
We go to a lot of Farm Bureau events, and there’s a lot of camaraderie built because you’re meeting with people who have similar interests and goals.
Andy Hollenback's avatar
Andy Hollenback

Licking County Farm Bureau

Event Calendar
Suggested Tags: