Battle for Lake Erie includes debate over manure-based phosphorus concentration

8/31/2020
BY TOM HENRY / THE BLADE

A major agronomic debate is being played out in Columbus now, which has potentially large ramifications for western Lake Erie and goes beyond simply looking at the staggering volumes of liquid and solid excrement produced by northwest Ohio cows, hogs, and chickens.

It focuses on the minutia of agricultural science, right down to the parts per million of phosphorus applied to soil in the form of manure.

One of the many groups raising questions is the Lake Erie Foundation, a consortium of Lake Erie-area business and environmental interests. That group and others, including Lake Erie Waterkeeper, want manure-based phosphorus applications dialed down to roughly the same concentration as commercially made, synthetic fertilizers, which is about 40 to 50 parts per million. Manure has for years been applied on northwest Ohio crop farms at much higher concentrations, usually 150 ppm. Some critics, though, claim the application rate has, in reality, gotten as high as 200 ppm to 250 ppm.

From information gathered in a public records request, the foundation believes the state of Ohio has rejected a recommendation from an independent consultant, McKinsey & Co., to promote 50 ppm as a limit for manure, even though Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture director, showed support for that in 2019. The firm was paid $1.5 million to provide advice to the DeWine administration for its H2Ohio program, which aims to improve water quality statewide through better farming techniques, more and improved wetlands, better pipelines, and other measures. Continue reading

New Program from Paulding SWCD

The Paulding Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce the launch of a new cost-share program called the Lower Auglaize Nutrient & Sediment Reduction Program (NSRP) for producers in Paulding County. Funding is limited in this program so be sure to contact me as soon as possible. Check below for program details. Continue reading

H2Ohio Update

Press Release from Ohio Department of Agriculture via Paulding SWCD – June 11, 2020

Although the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required the state of Ohio to reassess its budget forecasts, the Department of Agriculture will be moving forward with $50 million in incentive funds available to producers for implementation of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) included in Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio program.

H2Ohio funding for BMPs will begin in the crop year 2021. Soil & Water Conservation District staff will contact current H2Ohio applicants and work with producers to update all applications to reflect BMPs for crop years 2021, 2022, and 2023, with future year incentives contingent on the availability of funds. Continue reading

City quietly drops appeal of Lake Erie Bill of Rights ruling

By Tom Henry, The Toledo Blade, thenry@theblade.com

With little explanation, the city of Toledo has withdrawn its appeal of U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary’s Feb. 27 ruling to invalidate the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.

In his eight-page ruling, Judge Zouhary said his decision to invalidate LEBOR was “not a close call.”

The ruling came on the one-year anniversary of a special February 2019, a special election which drew only 9 percent of the city’s registered voters. Of those, 61 percent approved a citizen-led referendum that called for amending the city’s charter. Continue reading

Message from The Nature Conservancy about a New Program for the Maumee Valley Watershed

From The Nature Conservancy Newsletter
We are looking for a diverse group of farmers; large acreage, small acreage, corn and soy, small grains, livestock, new and experienced who are willing to be trained to reach out and share their knowledge with other farmers.  “This is an opportunity for farmers to take the knowledge they’ve gained on their own farm and make an impact in a larger area.  We want people (farmers) who realize the importance of soil health goes beyond their own farms and who want to see farming be successful.  The future of farming depends on soil health,”  said Stephanie Singer, outreach education specialist at the Western Lake Erie Basin Project Office.  If you are interested in being part of this exciting farmer-led outreach project please complete the online Farmer Advocate for Conservation Application, Click Here!

Continue reading

Ohio Agricultural Law Blog — The Legal Challenges to the Lake Erie Bill of Rights Begin

Written by Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Toledo’s Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) has been in the headlines a lot lately, and certainly on the minds of farmers in the Lake Erie watershed.  So far, the Ag Law Blog has focused attention on what LEBOR is, why it was on the ballot, and what types of defenses agricultural producers can raise if sued.  Because voters approved the ballot measure, the focus now shifts to how LEBOR will be treated in the courts. Continue reading