On May 22, Gov. John Kasich signed the much-discussed Ohio water quality legislation, Am. Sub. SB 150, into law.
“The bill itself was introduced on June 25, 2013 by senators Cliff Hite, who is also chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Bob Peterson. The sponsors and agencies willingly worked with Farm Bureau and the other agricultural groups as the bill underwent several drafts during the committee hearing process in the Senate,” said Tony Seegers, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “SB 150 is meant to be one component of a more comprehensive statewide nutrient reduction strategy. Ohio agriculture has and will continue to do its part to protect our state’s precious water resources.”
SB 150 will require some changes for farms with regard to nutrient management.
“If you, as a farmer, apply fertilizer on more than 50 acres, you, or the person applying the fertilizer, will have to be certified. The bill allows for fertilizer to be applied by a person who is not certified if the person is applying the fertilizer ‘under the instruction and control’ of someone who is certified. This allows an employee of a farm to be certified and ‘supervise’ the application of fertilizer by another or the farm can utilize the services of a custom applicator,” Seegers said. “Those who will be applying fertilizer on more than 50 acres for agricultural production will have until September 30, 2017 to obtain their fertilizer applicator certification. ODA has indicated after they finalize their rules on certification the classes will be offered as soon as possible. ODA is working with OSU Extension to offer the training.”
While the law does require certification, it does offer some legal protection for farms.
“SB 150 will allow farmers to obtain an affirmative defense to civil actions for claims involving or resulting from the application of fertilizer if certain elements are met,” Seegers said. “An affirmative defense is a reason a defendant asserts to the court as to why that defendant should not have to pay damages. It is a tool to help a defendant have the case dismissed early on in the litigation process, thus saving possibly large legal fees.”