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Should we legislate the rain?

First, the larger view and philosophies of HB 490 make quite a bit of sense. There is no argument there and that is why the legislation has general support from agriculture. Politically, many feel more needs to be done by agriculture to improve water quality in Lake Erie. HB 490 seems like a reasonable response from a proactive Ohio agriculture.

On the other hand, any time factors like weather, soil, nutrients, and water are a part of legislation, a broad brush is often used to cover the small details that really matter when it comes to complex challenges such as water quality. It also should be noted that the principles of HB 490 rely heavily on tried and true conservation practices that have been used in the past, which is when the problem with water quality got its start. This is a problem that demands change and a new way of looking at things based upon answers to questions that are not yet known. Hence, some people argue that legislation should not be crafted until more research on this water quality issue is done.

So, is HB 490 reasonable? Maybe. But, this legislation is moving fast as politicians respond to water quality concerns and that can lead to errors that may haunt agriculture for years to come. Like anything else, the devil of 490 will be in the final details. Here is what agronomist and CCA Joe Nester had to say about his concerns with the legislation that looks like it could move to the governor’s desk for a signature as early as next week.

“The language is not definitive enough to do the right thing and I think we may be creating more problems than we started with,” Nester said. “If it was me, I would be contacting my congressman on this. I called mine this morning.”

Here is more from Nester at today’s Ohio No-Till Conference on HB 490.

Joe Nester 14 NoTill

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  1. “tried and true conservation practices that have been used in the past, which is when the problem with water quality got its start” Reminds me of Einstein’s saying that we do things the same way all the time but each time expect different results. That said, most regulation is in the details. And that’s not where it’s at, because water and weather change with the seasons, so to speak. I always come to think how the road act deals with such tings. First of all it decrees everyone has to keep to the right side of the street (excepting Britain maybe). That applies EVERYWHERE, even in one-way roads where sensible. Then come certain other general rules, but they then only apply in certain cases. And then come certain signs etc. that can be posted but need not be and are posted sometimes a little late (after a fatal accident), but, give and take a few over-zealous bureaucrats, are applied with foresight differently in different places. I always wonder if we could not get a similar regulatory framework, where everything can be “fine brush” according to local circumstances, installed in other areas of life.

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