Blanchard River Demonstration Farms

HB7 signed, creates important water quality program

During the first week of the new year, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 7, creating the Statewide Watershed Planning and Management Program.

“The creation of this program is another important step in the work being done to improve water quality in our state as it allows for the development of more localized watershed plans,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau, during the signing ceremony of the bill. “It’s important because it provides resources for local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help develop those plans in cooperation with area farmers and the various groups involved in water quality improvements.”

Other aspects of House Bill 7 include the Ohio Department of Agriculture director categorizing watersheds and appointing at least one watershed planning and management coordinator in each region. Those coordinators perform certain duties in the watershed, including assisting each Soil and Water Conservation District to identify sources and areas of water quality impairment.

The bill also revises requirements for CAUV eligibility of land used for biofuel production and reduces from 50% to 20% of the amount of bio-digesters that must come from the farm.

“House Bill 7 creates yet another useful tool to assist the agriculture community in its continued commitment to making improvements in water quality,” Sharp said. “That is a commitment the agriculture community looks forward to working on with the governor more in the future.”