REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is hosting a series of virtual informational meetings for farmers to learn about Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative in the newly added 10 counties.
The program, which incentivizes farmers for implementing proven conservation practices to reduce phosphorus runoff, is now open to farmers in Seneca, Huron, Erie, Wyandot, Richland, Shelby, Sandusky, Marion, Ottawa, and Crawford counties. Phosphorus runoff is a primary contributing factor to algal blooms on Lake Erie.
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, 6:00 p.m.
- July 22, 9:00 a.m.
- July 28, 6:00 p.m.
- July 29, 1:00 p.m.
The meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams. More information about the meetings, including links to join, can be found at h2.ohio.gov.
Watch this short video to learn more about H2Ohio, the recent expansion and the collaboration with the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI).
In the first year of the H2Ohio Program, 1,800 farmers enrolled more than 1 million acres of cropland in the targeted 14 counties: Williams, Fulton, Lucas, Defiance, Henry, Wood, Paulding, Putnam, Hancock, Van Wert, Allen, Hardin, Mercer, and Auglaize. With the recent expansion, all 24 counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin are now included in the H2Ohio Program.
Governor DeWine launched H2Ohio in November 2019 as 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 Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) welcomes the recent expansion of the H2Ohio farmer incentive program into the 10 additional Western Lake Erie Basin counties. OACI is partnering with ODA and H2Ohio to host the informational meetings for farmers and producers.
“We are committed to reaching as many farmers as possible to spread the word about the expansion of the H2Ohio program and the dedicated work farmers are putting in to improving water quality across the state,” said Kris Swartz, OACI chair and northwest Ohio farmer. “OACI’s partnership with ODA and H2Ohio is an exciting step forward in recognizing farmers for their dedication to advancing science-based practices that improve water quality in Ohio.”
OACI Farmer Certification Program
OACI opened enrollment for the Farmer Certification Program in fall 2020, with certification having launched June 1. Through the program, farmers self-report information about their farm’s soil testing, nutrient application, nutrient placement, on-field management and structural practices, with the number of acres in each category. Farmers completing certification will receive a score and, if below requirements, will be given suggestions for improvement. For participating farmers earning certification on a whole farm level, some H2Ohio funds will be available to help finance the implementation of conservation and nutrient management practices.
“OACI’s farmer certification program will help increase adoption of best management practices and recognize farmers who demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement,” said Jan Layman, a northwest Ohio farmer. “Through the partnership with H2Ohio and Ohio’s agriculture, conservation, environmental and research communities, we are making the implementation of best practices accessible to every farmer.”
To measure the progress of the certification program, OACI is establishing a baseline of current conservation and nutrient management practices taking place on Ohio’s farm fields. This data will be used – in the aggregate to maintain confidentiality – as a measurement of the continuous implementation of science-based best management practices.
OACI was created as an innovative, collaborative effort of the agricultural, conservation, environmental and research communities to improve water quality. For more information about OACI, visit www.OhioACI.org.
— Ohio Department of Agriculture
— Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative
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