COLUMBUS — A collaboration of stakeholders representing Ohio’s agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities have joined forces to develop and deploy a statewide water quality initiative.
The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Ohio, where sub-committees focused on best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach.
Much of the conversation centered on identifying the path to healthy waterways in the state, and the approaches necessary to understand existing practices and engage farmers in education and certification.
“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, CEO, Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group. “This initiative will work toward broad-scale adoption of best management practices by Ohio’s farmers.”
Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, also serves as co-chair.
“Bringing these diverse interests to the same table is a significant accomplishment, and we all share a common goal of clean water for all Ohioans,” she said.
Agriculture Conservation Working Group members
Members of the Agriculture Conservation Working Group include the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Ohio Pork Council, the Ohio Poultry Association, the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, the Ohio Soybean Council, the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University and The Nature Conservancy.
One of the group’s goals is to inventory farm practices and build a farmer certification program similar to the 4R certification programs.
When completed, the initiative will benchmark data and create a framework for certification of Ohio’s farms to support healthy waterways in Ohio. It projects that the proposed certification framework could be introduced as soon as the end of 2019.
More information will be available in the coming months as the group launches a website and other resources for stakeholders.
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