Delivering Farmers’ Perspective on Executive Order Rules

November 1, 2018 Ohio Soybean Association

In early October, I had the opportunity to testify before the ‘Toward a Cleaner Lake Erie’ legislative working group at Ohio Northern University. That is a busy time of year for me, like many farmers, but I knew that it was my responsibility to ensure that this group heard from us.

Under the leadership of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Hackett & House Agriculture Committee Chair Brian Hill, this legislative working group came together to hear testimony from farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin. A few months ago, Gov. Kasich issued an Executive Order that would declare eight watersheds in the Western Lake Erie basin as distressed and would regulate commercial fertilizer, which the Ohio Soybean Association opposed. The distressed designation would trigger several new rules for farmers in the watershed, including a requirement to have a certified nutrient management plan.

I, myself, went through the process of getting a nutrient management plan done and encourage all farmers to have one. However, a practical nutrient management plan must be flexible enough to allow for quick and seamless updates as new information and data become available.

From my experience testifying, I learned that the legislature is committed to bringing all groups, not just farmers, to the table to create a systematic approach to solving Ohio’s water quality issues. The Ohio Soybean Association remains committed to making sure Ohio’s soybean farmers voices are heard. It is imperative that we continue to engage our legislative representatives, so they understand what exactly this would mean to the farming community in Ohio.

Farmers are, and have always been, good stewards who want to do the right thing. Protecting Lake Erie is a priority for us and that’s why we voluntarily adopt conservation practices on our farms every year. We look forward to working with the legislature and future administrations on finding solutions that are both economically viable to Ohio’s farmers and based on sound, scientific research.

Todd Hesterman, Ohio Soybean Association Chairman, Henry County soybean farmer