The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is announcing an additional assistance program for producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299.
The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program is a voluntary program that will encourage producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, or cereal rye on eligible cropland. As the “working lands” name implies, participants must plant and harvest small grains, land apply manure, and plant a cover crop to receive a cost-share payment to help offset operating costs. The program benefits the planting of small grains not only for the conservation benefits, but to provide livestock producers with a longer application window to land apply manure and nutrients.
“We are committed to working with farmers to achieve shared goals,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “This is a program that both supports farmers and helps protect Lake Erie. Through my H2Ohio initiative, we will continue to invest in Lake Erie and in efforts to improve water quality across Ohio.”
Signed in 2018, Ohio Senate Bill 299 provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) located in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) for nutrient management programs. ODA has already distributed $3.5 million to 24 SWCDs in Northwest Ohio and in February, ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda announced plans for three new assistance programs for the remaining $20 million: the Ohio Working Lands Program, the Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program, and the Cost Share and Equipment Buy Down Program.
“We are very excited to roll out the Small Grains Program as we have already seen great interest from producers for our other assistance programs in the Western Lake Erie Basin,” said Dorothy Pelanda, ODA Director. “ODA looks forward to working with farmers to implement meaningful programs that make progress toward our common goals of soil and water conservation.”
The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program will fall under the umbrella of the Ohio Working Lands Program. Local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) will manage the program sign-up, verification of eligibility, and crop establishment. Soil tests and records of manure analysis and application will be required to be submitted to the SWCD as well. Producers interested in the program should contact their local SWCD to learn how to sign up.
“We appreciate Governor DeWine and Director Pelanda recognizing that assistance is needed to solve important issues facing Ohio’s waters,” said Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “We encourage all growers of small grains in northwest Ohio to consider being part of this important program. Farmers look forward to continuing our efforts to protect water quality in Ohio.”
Also, as part of the Ohio Working Lands Program, local SWCDs in the Western Lake Erie Basin are still accepting sign-ups for the Ohio Working Lands Hay Buffer program which semi-retires environmentally sensitive areas of a field from annual crop acres to permanent harvestable forage acres. The sign-up deadline for the Working Lands Hay Buffer program is May 1.
Producers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to contact their local soil and water conservation district office to learn more and sign up for these new programs.