COLUMBUS — Speaker of the Ohio House Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) Wednesday held a press conference with the chairs of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to call on Governor John Kasich to rescind his executive order on agricultural regulations and delay the action of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Officials calling for the executive order to be rescinded believe it seeks to establish numerous policy changes through rule-making rather than the legislative process.
As some of Ohio’s greatest natural resources, the health of Lake Erie and the state’s hundreds of river miles are of top importance, a statement from the Ohio House of Representatives Majority Communications Department says. Leaders in the House and Senate came together with interested parties in the agricultural community to commend successes in the legislature over the past several years to address agricultural runoff issues and the impact on clean and healthy waterways.
“The legislature has not been sitting on its hands when it comes to the issue of water quality and nutrient runoff in Ohio,” said Speaker Smith. “While there is more work to be done, we have made tremendous strides and continue to work toward a solution. We invite the Governor and agency directors to come to the table to communicate with all stakeholders, most importantly Ohio farmers, to ensure we create a legislative fix that improves water quality without making farmers’ jobs harder.”
Most recently, the legislature approved Senate Bill 299, which establishes the Clean Lake 2020 Plan. More than $36 million in funding will go toward a variety of programs aimed at supporting Lake Erie and reducing toxic algae. The bill follows previous efforts to prevent nutrient runoff and establish a process for the disposal of dredge material to improve water quality.
“The Ohio House and Senate are calling for the Governor to rescind his executive order regarding additional burdensome and costly regulations on the agricultural industry,” said Rep. Brian Hill (R-Zanesville), chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. “As a farmer myself, we need an opportunity for public input on the issue, especially from the 7,000 farmers in the affected watersheds. I am already impressed by the work they have done to voluntarily improve their practices based on previously passed legislation. We stand ready to join forces with farmers, the administration, and other interested parties to build upon best practices farmers have already implemented to willingly protect Ohio’s lands and waters.”
Members of Ohio’s agricultural community joined legislators to support legislative initiatives and come forward to collaborate in an effort to harmonize the agriculture industry with clean water priorities.
“It is crucial for the agricultural industry and environmentalists to work together, and farmers agree on the importance of this matter,” said Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Farmers want to be a part of the discussion on this issue, as they too need to keep nutrients on their fields and out of water runoff. The legislature and the industry should not be left out of such an expansive policy change that would affect thousands of hardworking individuals.”
The press conference comes after an executive order was signed to enforce what the Ohio House Majority Communications Department has called expansive policy reforms that would further regulate the agricultural industry in order to reduce nutrient runoff that affects water quality in Lake Erie. It can be viewed at http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-discussing-lake-erie-and-ohio-agriculture.