81st OFU Convention Preview

Here’s the press release sent statewide by the Ohio Farmers earlier today:

ofulogofbfeatWater Quality, Farmland Tax on Deck for Ohio Farmers Union 81st Convention

State Representatives Sheehy, Patterson will be honored on final day of meeting

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s educational and advocacy organization dedicated to family farming will tackle several hot button issues in Ohio during its 81st annual convention in Columbus this Friday.

“We expect 2015 to be an exceptionally important year for Ohio’s farmers in terms of state legislation and Kasich administration tax policies,” said Linda Borton, executive director of the Ohio Farmers Union.

“Farmers in Ohio are facing additional regulation with manure application and they are already feeling the effects of agricultural property taxes increasing by 50 to 300 percent in the past couple of years,” Borton said.

“Those two items – water quality and the broken CAUV formula – will be major points of emphasis for our policy committee,” Borton said.

CAUV, or Current Agricultural Use Valuation, is a state tax formula instituted in the 1970s to help protect Ohio farmland by lowering the property tax bills for farmland. The program is responsible for keeping much of Ohio’s agricultural lands in production as the lower property tax rates do not skew the farmers’ cost of production, especially in areas where rural land is threatened by urban sprawl and suburban development.

Due to changes in commodity markets and the effects of a changing larger economy, over the past two to three years, the formula used by the Ohio Dept. of Taxation for determining a farmer’s CAUV tax value has begun to wildly fluctuate. In many cases across the state, family farmers have seen their farmland property taxes rise by 300 percent or more in a single year.

Borton said that on the water quality front, OFU is expected to adopt policy for 2015 urging the Ohio General Assembly to take a “science-based and targeted” approach to new regulation. During the debate over H.B. 490 in 2014, OFU President Joe Logan and other members asked the Ohio House to limit tighter regulatory schemes to distressed watershed areas such as the Maumee River Basin in northwest Ohio.

“No one wants to see the algae problems we’ve had in Lake Erie and in other waterways,” Borton said.

“The key is for regulation to be fair, fact-based and targeted,” Borton added.

[Read more…]

Presentations and Clips from OFU’s Lake Erie Solutions Forum

Lake-Erie-Forum640I’m working on a story and our own video coverage from what turned out to be an excellent set of presentations from Dr. Jeff Reutter, Ohio Sea Grant; Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension; Todd Hesterman, farmer and NW Ohio Coordinator of Conservation in Action and Adam Rissien from the Ohio Environmental Council. For now, find below the PowerPoint presentations from our presenters and links to media coverage of the event. Thanks to all who attended and to our presenters!

OFU Farmers Seeking Solutions Forum – Presentations

OFU Farmers Seeking Solutions Forum – Media Coverage

13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

[VIDEO] Here’s an idea for low-cost, do-it-yourself baseline well water testing

If you farm near an injection well in Ohio where they dump frack waste water, you might try this

The ideas described in this video will not hold up in court against a polluter should your well water be contaminated by frack waste, but this technique – and working with your neighbors – could give you an affordable way to track one aspect of water quality. An increase in the level of chlorides in your water over time could be the canary in the coal mine telling you to get professional testing done.

State Agencies Work with Ohio Company to Deliver Data on Grand Lake St. Marys Algae

Screenshot of monitoring results of water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys

News releases from Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said last week that a public-private partnership is bringing results in monitoring water quality levels at Grand Lake St. Marys.

Working with Ohio DNR and EPA, YSI, Inc. of Yellow Springs has installed water monitoring stations at the 13,000 acre lake. For the past two years Grand Lake St. Mary’s has been a stew of toxic algae. The state has tried repeated treatments of alum in the water to get the algal blooms under control. Recreational activities at the lake have come to a standstill causing problems for the local economy during outdoor activity seasons.

[Read more…]