Legislation important to members and advocated for by Ohio Farm Bureau was passed during the “lame duck” session of the Ohio Legislature at the end of 2020.
The Ohio House and Senate came together to agree on House Bill 7, which creates the Statewide Watershed Planning and Management Program. The bill allows for the development of more localized watershed plans and provides resources for local soil and water conservation districts to help develop them with area farmers.
“House Bill 7 creates yet another useful tool to assist the agriculture community in its continued commitment to making improvements in water quality,” said Brandon Kern, OFBF senior director of state and national policy.
Another piece of legislation that Farm Bureau has worked on for years is to overhaul county drainage petition regulations through House Bill 340, which modernizes the ditch petition processes by which landowners can petition the county for drainage improvement projects.
HB 340 embraces the use of technology such as digital maps, video or photographs via drone footage, etc. to modernize the petition viewing process regarding the proposed drainage improvement’s location and issues intended to be addressed.
Another important highlight is increasing the minimum width of the required sod or seeded strip along the drainage improvement from 4 feet to 10 feet. This will provide for better erosion and sediment control and aligns with Ohio Farm Bureau’s support for efforts that improve soil and water conservation efforts.
On a national level, Farm Bureau applauded inclusion of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, broadband development and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program supplemental payments in the latest COVID relief bill. The package also provided more help to livestock producers who did not receive as much assistance in earlier bills, including:
- Payments to livestock and poultry growers for losses suffered due to depopulation because of insufficient processing access due to COVID-19 market impacts
- Payments to livestock and poultry contract growers who had revenue losses due to contract changes because of COVID-19
- $400 million to pay for milk to be processed into dairy products and donated to nonprofit entities
- Make loans and grants to small and mid-sized food processors or distributors.