COLUMBUS — The Ohio Farmers Union added hemp cultivation and specific recommendations for Lake Erie water quality woes in its 2019 statement of public policy proposals.
The proposals were among the legislative priorities adopted at the Ohio Farmers Union recent state convention in Lima.
OFU delegates tweaked the organization’s nutrient management and Lake Erie water quality special order, or policy. The farm organization continues to support former Gov. John Kasich’s executive order that identified eight watersheds feeding the harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie’s western basin.
OFU’s proposal boils down to accepting impaired or distressed status for those watersheds and using funds available through SB 299 (2018) for soil testing in those areas and eventual suspension of manure spreading in ‘hot spots.’
“We believe the state should use federal EPA’s ‘adaptive management’ concept, which would allow for constant review of the data and reassessment of any action plans,” said OFU President Joe Logan.
The association believes any prohibitions or additional regulations could be lifted when the local data reflects a return to acceptable phosphorous loads.
CAUV efforts continue
“While we are grateful for the recent changes to the CAUV formula, there still exists issues with some outlandish tax assessments on woodlands around the state,” said Logan.
“Woodlands provide immense environmental benefits and we’ll be talking to state leaders this year about tweaks to their valuation for tax purposes.”
Logan is also optimistic about the prospects for industrial hemp production in Ohio.
Since the 2018 farm bill lifted the federal prohibition on the cultivation of industrial hemp, Logan said he’s been contacted by a growing number of farmers and even a Texas state ag official looking for information on what Ohio’s approach will be to the crop.
“The ball is in the state of Ohio’s court — and I know that officials at the Ohio Department of Agriculture are aware that there’s a growing number of farmers who may wish to diversify by adding hemp to their crop rotation,” Logan said.
He said the Ohio Farmers Union supports a state hemp program, “but only in the event that it’s designed to work and be available to all farmers in all parts of the state.”
He does sound a note of caution, however, regarding the market outlook.
“There are a few ‘get rich quick’ ideas out there. Farmers need to do their homework and be aware of how the markets work now and have a plan.”
Also included in OFU’s policy proposals this year:
- A statement that USDA should respect the will of Congress on SNAP work requirements;
- Renewed support for the renewable fuel standard and condemnation of the overuse of so-called ‘hardship waivers’ by the fossil fuel industry;
- Increased accountability for state and federal agricultural commodity check-off programs;
- A slate of healthcare reform proposals that would benefit rural Americans;
- Support for a solar energy project in Highland County;
- A moratorium on anti-competitive corporate mergers in ag industry;
- Tax credits for sellers of farmland to beginning farmers in Ohio; and,
- Support for the Buy American Agricultural Act.
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