HB 490 taking another regulatory step to address water quality

Ohio lawmakers have  taken another step forward in efforts to protect Lake Erie under a new law moving through the Ohio General Assembly.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is supporting the nutrient management amendment to House Bill 490 (HB 490) because its provisions benefit Lake Erie, include practices that are workable for farmers, apply to a well-defined geography and include appropriate penalties for non-compliance.

Additionally, HB 490 provisions are based on existing standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which farmers said are effective and practical. HB 490 contains a ban on the spreading of manure or commercial fertilizer in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) when conditions are conducive to nutrient runoff. These conditions include frozen and snow-covered ground, when the top two inches of soil are saturated by precipitation or when there is at least a 50% chance of precipitation in the weather forecast. However, the law will allow application under the above conditions if the nutrients are injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application or are applied to a growing crop.

The bill passed the Ohio House on Nov. 19 and is expected to soon be taken up in the Senate.

Farm Bureau’s policies call for water quality solutions that are science based, economical and balanced. Ohio Farm Bureau members and staff engaged with state agencies and lawmakers to apply these principles as HB 490 legislation was developed.

This is the second piece of nutrient management legislation passed recently with the support of Ohio Farm Bureau. Senate Bill 150, the first of its kind in the nation, became law this summer and requires farmers to receive training to become certified to spread fertilizer.

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