H2Ohio to open farmer funding applications

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Lake Erie island shore
Lake Erie (Farm and Dairy file photo)

SALEM, Ohio — Farmers in 14 northwest Ohio counties will be able to apply for a total of $30 million in funding through the H2Ohio initiative, beginning Feb. 1, at soil and water conservation district offices, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

These funds will help farmers invest in 10 proven practices to reduce phosphorus runoff from agriculture. Scientists have identified phosphorus runoff from farmland as a major cause of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. These blooms can threaten human and animal health and drinking water quality.

The eligible counties are Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams and Wood counties. While the phosphorus reduction plan is focusing on the Maumee River Watershed and Lake Erie first, it will eventually open up to the rest of the state.

Practices

The 10 proven practices for reducing phosphorus runoff were established partly by the Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative and range from practices for fertilizing, to managing drainage water and incorporating wetlands and buffers at the edges of fields, to using cover crops and crop rotations.

Farmers who receive H2Ohio funding will develop and implement nutrient management plans based on which combination of practices is the most effective for their farms.

Meetings

The ODA will host meetings throughout February with the OACI and local soil and water districts for farmers from the 14 eligible counties to explain the application process. The meetings will also explain the OACI’s new farmer certification program and how the program will work with the H2Ohio initiative.

Farmers do not need to be residents in the same county as the meeting they choose to attend. The eight meetings will be:

Feb. 4, 3 p.m., Owens Community College, Veteran Hall, 30355 Oregon Road, Perrysburg;

Feb. 5, 2 p.m., Delphos Eagles, 1600 E. 5th Street, Delphos;

Feb. 5, 6 p.m., Defiance K of C Hall, 111 Elliott Road, Defiance;

Feb. 11, 6 p.m., Auglaize County Jr. Fair Building, 1001 Fairview Drive, Wapakoneta;

Feb. 18, 6 p.m., American Legion Hall, 601 North 2nd Street, Coldwater;

Feb. 20, 6 p.m., Fogle Center, 815 East Mathias Street, Leipsic;

Feb. 27, 6 p.m., Kissell Community Building, 509 North Main Street, West Unity;

Feb. 28, 9:30 a.m., Ohio Northern University, McIntosh Center, 525 South Main Street, Ada.

Budget

The Ohio General Assembly set aside a total of $172 million in the budget in July 2019 to fund H2Ohio over two years. The ODA said the remaining funds for this year will be used to create wetlands and improve water quality by addressing failing septic systems and preventing lead contamination.

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