Monday, November 18, 2019

Ohio farmers support new state program to reduce fertilizer runoff into Lake Erie that causes toxic algae blooms

A July 30, 2019, satellite photo of Maumee Bay shows a toxic
algae bloom at the western end of Lake Erie. (NASA photo)
"Ohio farmers say they're on board with the state's plans to slow agricultural runoff into Lake Erie, which Gov. Mike DeWine has said is the biggest contributor to toxic algae blooms," Karen Kasler reports for the Statehouse News Bureau, which reports on state government and statewide issues.

Much of the $172 million allocated by the new "H2Ohio" fund will cover startup costs for farmers who agree to start using certain science-based practices that will reduce phosphorus runoff, including soil testing, crop rotation, using cover crops, and allowing buffers at the edge of fields, Kasler reports.

The program is notable because farmers and other agribusiness interests like the Ohio Farm Bureau, which tend to oppose government intervention into agricultural practices, are joining environmental activists and conservationists in supporting the plan. "Farmers had pushed back on an attempt to toughen regulations on agriculture in an executive order from former Gov. John Kasich last year," Kasler reports. "That led to Kasich's decision to fire Agriculture Director David Daniels just before Kasich left office."

Scott Higgins, CEO of the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, said this program is different. "By recognizing the needs to have the financial support to implement some of those best management practices, we now have a much better chance of even coming close to achieving the stated goal that the state of Ohio has set," Higgins told Kasler.

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