Organization promotes environmentalself-assessment for farmers, ranchers

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COLUMBUS – Ohio farmers will soon have a new self-help program available to enhance farm profits and protect natural resources.

The environmental self-assessment program is being launched by the newly created Ohio Agricultural Environmental Assurance Alliance.

Crop, pasture and woodland farmers will be able to work alongside alliance members to attain Core 4 conservation goals: better soil, cleaner water, greater profits and a brighter future.

Member organizations include farm and commodity groups, government agencies, agricultural businesses and The Ohio State University.

Help to comply. The alliance is introducing a voluntary self-assessment program that is also aimed at helping farmers comply with a variety of mandatory government programs.

“We want to link this program to the conservation provisions of the farm bill, or to areas that might be under [Total Daily Maximum Load] requirements or to drinking water source protection areas,” said Larry Antosch, director of environmental research for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, one of the alliance’s founding members.

Workshops. Farmers will be able to attend a two-part workshop presented by professional resource persons provided by alliance members.

The first session will explain how the assessment works, why it’s important and how to use it. Then producers will have two to three weeks to complete the assessments of their operations.

The second portion of the workshop calls for the producers to bring their findings back to a panel of resource professionals who will help the producer evaluate assessment results and, if necessary, develop plans to solve any issues discovered.

When both portions of the workshop are completed, producers will have a conservation plan developed for their farms, Antosch said.

Help you help yourself. Participants in the self-assessment program will focus on factors that potentially could degrade water quality including transport of sediment to surface water, and the transport of nutrients and pesticides to either surface or groundwater.

Several pilot workshops are scheduled for November and December. A statewide rollout is planned fin 2004.

Member groups. Members of the alliance are the Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center, Conservation Technology Information Center, Land Stewards, Monsanto, Ohio AgriBusiness Association,

Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Program, Ohio Corn Growers, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency,

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Fruit Growers, Ohio No-Till Council, Ohio Soybean Association and Ohio Soybean Council,

Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers, Syngenta Crop Protection and USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

For more information, call 614-246-8262.



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* Ohio Agricultural Environmental Assurance Alliance

614-246-8262

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