Farming

The program, which offers funding to farmers who implement proven conservation practices that limit agricultural phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, is now open to farmers in Seneca, Huron, Erie, Wyandot, Richland, Shelby, Sandusky, Marion, Ottawa and Crawford counties.

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s farmer incentive program is expanding into 10 additional counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The program, which offers funding to farmers who implement proven conservation practices that limit agricultural phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, is now open to farmers in Seneca, Huron, Erie, Wyandot, Richland, Shelby, Sandusky, Marion, Ottawa and Crawford counties.

That brings the total number of counties eligible for the program to 24, a news release stated.

Phosphorus runoff is the primary factor behind algal blooms on Lake Erie.

“Our food growers and producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin want to be part of the solution, as evidenced by the 1,800 farmers who participated in the program’s first year,” Governor Mike DeWine said in the news release.

“By expanding H2Ohio’s farmer incentive program into more counties in the area, we’ll continue to slow phosphorus runoff, which will ultimately contribute to a reduction in Lake Erie algal blooms over the long term,” he also said.

Ohio’s new bipartisan operating budget, passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Governor DeWine recently provides $120 million over the next two years to continue and expand funding to farmers who work to reduce phosphorus runoff.

“We are excited to not only move forward with these important conservation practices in our original target area of the Western Lake Erie Basin, but also be able to incorporate these practices into an even greater area,” Ohio Department of Agriculture  Director Dorothy Pelanda said.

“Interest is incredibly strong and ODA is committed to working with our farmers to help them navigate the process of conserving their water and land resources, while advancing water quality in our state,” she also said in the statement.

Virtual meetings will be held later this month for farmers in the newly eligible counties to provide more information on H2Ohio’s conservation programs:

* July 20, 6 p.m.

* July 22, 9 a.m.

* July 28, 6 p.m.

* July 29, 1 p.m.

More information and links to the meetings are available on the web at h2.ohio.gov.

Farmers in the original 14 participating counties, including Williams, Fulton, Lucas, Defiance, Henry, Wood, Paulding, Putnam, Hancock, Van Wert, Allen, Hardin, Mercer, and Auglaize, will continue receiving incentives during the program’s second year and have already enrolled more than one million acres of cropland in the program.

Launched in 2019, H2Ohio is a long-term, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and address lead contamination in Ohio.

The initiative is a collaboration involving ODA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Lake Erie Commission and other environmental, agricultural, and educational partners.

It is the first comprehensive state program that addresses all aspects of water quality, the news release stated.

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