State Rep. Haraz N. Ghanbari’s (R-Perrysburg) legislation, Sub. House Bill 7, a top-priority bill within the Ohio House passed in the General Assembly earlier Thursday. The bill creates the Statewide Watershed Planning and Management Program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to help with water quality improvements. Ghanbari is a primary sponsor of the legislation.
“Agriculture is one of our biggest forms of industry and commerce throughout Wood County, which is what makes this bill so important to our area as water quality is such a critical issue for agriculture and our farmers,” said Ghanbari. “This bill has always been about the preservation and restoration of Ohio’s water quality, and in working with ODA and other groups, I’m excited to see its passage today and look forward to Gov. DeWine signing into law.”
Provisions of the bill include:
- Creates the Statewide Watershed Planning and Management Program, administered by ODA;
- ODA Director must categorize watersheds and appoint at least one watershed planning and management coordinator in each region to coordinate planning;
- Coordinators perform certain duties in the watershed, including assisting each soil and water conservation district to identify sources and areas of water quality impairment;
- ODA, in consultation with the Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission, may establish a pilot program that assists farmers, agricultural retailers, and soil and water conservation districts in reducing phosphorus in a watershed; and
- Revises requirements for CAUV eligibility of land used for biofuel production. Reduces from 50% to 20% of the amount of bio-digesters that must come from the farm.
After these additions were added to the Sub. House Bill 7, today the House concurred in support on its passage.
Other organizations that have publically supported the legislation through its committee process includes the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Lake Erie Foundation, County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Coalition of Ohio Regional Districts, National Wildlife Foundation, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Sheep Improvement District, OSU, Ohio Soybean Association and Ohio Corn and Wheat Grower Association.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2018 numbers rank Wood County number two for its production of both soybeans and wheat throughout the state.
“I’m grateful for everyone’s collaboration and efforts that went into making this bill become effective policy that Ohioans and our environment will all benefit from as a result,” Ghanbari added.
After the bill’s full passage from the General Assembly, it now heads to the governor to be signed into law.