There have been many developments on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) front since the law was passed by Toledo voters. In the latest Legal with Leah, Ty Higgins visits with Ohio Farm Bureau’s Policy Council Leah Curtis about the actions being taken by both sides of the issue and why farmers should keep up with LEBOR updates, whether they live in the watershed or not.
Ty Higgins: I know you’re getting a lot of calls from farmers saying you know what does this mean for me and we’re getting into you know April here. Farmers are starting to think about getting into the fields when they can, when things dry out and work the fields getting ready for planting and this is just one thing on their mind. So you know looking short term, long term what’s next for LEBOR?
Leah Curtis: So as far as the litigation goes, you know litigation can move kind of slowly but certainly I think, you know, they’re trying to move as fast as they can and how long it will take we can’t really say but certainly having the injunction in place is a very good thing that should, you know, give people a lot of peace of mind as they do get to that you know into planting this year and into prepping their fields and getting ready. What can happen next is, you know, hard to say but hopefully we will see things move quickly and come to a final result. And that way we’ll hopefully have LEBOR put to bed. But the fact is that things like LEBOR could happen anywhere, anywhere in this state. And so it’s always a good idea to 1) pay attention to the things that are being collected… signatures are being collected for in your area because you want to make sure you know what you’re signing if something gets presented to you. And then we’ve talked a lot about ag districts as one possibility. The ag district program does provide a nuisance offense. It may be useful if one of these lawsuits would go forward. And so we’d always encourage our farmers to look into that as a possibility for their as another layer of protection for their farm.
Ty Higgins: You mentioned it could happen anywhere else. They’re talking about doing something in Cleveland about this and even talk about a statewide initiative going on the ballot at some point down the road. So you know if you’re a farmer in the Lake Erie watershed you know about this you’ve been told what to do to protect yourself. If you’re a farmer in central or south central Ohio…’All of this doesn’t pertain to me; I don’t have to worry about it,’ but they kind of do.
Leah Curtis: Definitely we have seen the same group that has put forth LEBOR that wrote LEBOR we have seen them in counties in southern Ohio in years past pushing very similar types of ordinances. We’ve seen them in Youngstown doing lots of ballot initiatives there and as you said there was an approval by the ballot board for them to collect signatures for a statewide constitutional amendment which would allow local jurisdictions to create these rights of nature ordinances. So it really could happen anywhere and water quality really should be something that everyone cares about. We’re all a part of it. We all contribute. We all need to you know make sure we’re being the best stewards of the land that we can be and we know our farmers are doing that. We know that they’re doing everything they can. And so all across the state we really should be talking about it.
Listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Policy Counsel Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting farmers and landowners.