Ohio Ag Dept. Director David Daniels, Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally, and ODNR Director Jim Zehringer are all behind legislation that would grant them new powers to curb the farm pollution that causes toxic algae on Grand Lake St. Marys, according to an article by Spencer Hunt published in The Columbus Dispatch
Article highlights include:
  • The bill, up for debate in the Ohio Senate’s Agriculture Committee, would give state officials more authority to limit pollution in areas where rain washes too much fertilizer off farm fields. Farmers also would have to undergo training and get a certificate from the Ohio Department of Agriculture before they could spread fertilizer.
  • Daniels, Nally and Zehringer repeatedly mentioned Senate Bill 150 as they made remarks and answered questions from OSU professors and environmental and farming advocates.
  • The bill is sponsored by Republicans Cliff Hite of Findlay and Bob Peterson of Sabina.
  • Zehringer said Hite and Peterson called the proposal important because his agency cannot limit fertilizer runoff from fields, but it can limit manure runoff.
  • Manure and commercial fertilizers contain phosphorus, which helps toxic algae grow thick in warm, still lake water. The algae produce liver and nerve toxins that can sicken people and kill pets and wildlife.
  • It’s unclear whether farming groups support the plan. Larry Antosch, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s environmental policy director, said he is unclear on what farmers would have to do to get a fertilizer certificate and how much the state could limit fertilizer use.
  • Daniels said the bill will gain support once farmers understand that the state can help them save money by spreading less fertilizer in a more-efficient way.