State expands ag incentives related to water quality

(Posted April 22, 2024)

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Brian Baldridge announced on April 19 that H2Ohio’s agriculture incentive program is now being offered to producers throughout the state.

DeWine launched H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive initiative aimed at addressing various threats to water quality, including harmful algal blooms caused by phosphorus runoff. H2Ohio’s agricultural program, which initially focused solely on farms located in northwest Ohio near Lake Erie, incentivizes farmers to implement science-based, proven best management practices to prevent nutrient runoff and improve water quality.

“H2Ohio is now firmly established in northwest Ohio, giving us the opportunity to take this program to other parts of the state,” DeWine said. “We appreciate the commitment that our current H2Ohio farmers have shown to protecting Lake Erie, and we look forward to engaging more producers across Ohio on how they can contribute to cleaner water throughout the state.”

Statewide enrollment for row-crop producers who farm in Ohio’s 64 counties outside of northwest Ohio’s Western Lake Erie Basin opened the week of April 22. ODA will enroll 500,000 acres into the program for a two-week sign-up period, April 22-May 6, with enrollment available on a first come, first served basis.

To apply, farmers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and provide up-to-date soil tests and information on planned crops and rotations, yield goals, and planned fertilizer applications. Producers who enroll will receive support to develop and implement voluntary nutrient management plans which encourages better utilization of nutrients applied.

The program allocation for Madison County is 17,500 acres, and each contract is capped at 1,000 acres. It is a limit of one contract per producer so that as many landowners as possible have the opportunity to enroll.

“We encourage producers to contact the Madison SWCD as soon as possible as we expect the program to fill up quickly,” said Julia Cumming, program administrator. Madison SWCD can be reached at (740) 852-4003.

ODA works closely with county SWCDs to administer participant contracts, provide technical assistance, and support producers with the implementation of best management practices. H2Ohio provides producers cost-saving benefits, such as financial and technical assistance, to implement conservation practices that are proven to improve soil health and water quality.

“The progress we’ve made with water quality in northwest Ohio has shown the agricultural community is dedicated to doing their part,” said Baldridge. “Offering the same incentives to our farmers across the rest of the state ensures we are all working together to continue to protect our most valuable resource.”

More information on the H2Ohio initiative can be found at h2.ohio.gov.

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