By Matt Reese
It appears as if #WaterDrama18 may still be alive and well as Tim Derickson was sworn in on Oct. 19 as interim director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Derickson, who was serving as assistant director, was named by Ohio Governor John R. Kasich to replace David Daniels, just weeks before the November election for a new governor.
There has been speculation this summer about increasing friction between Gov. Kasich and the ODA since the governor issued executive orders directing increased agricultural regulation targeting Lake Erie watersheds. This was further supported by a report via an unnamed source at Cleveland.com claiming Daniels was replaced as Director of the ODA due to an ongoing disagreement with Gov. Kasich over the measures being taken to address Lake Erie’s water quality challenges through increased agricultural regulation.
“Daniels, who has served as Kasich’s ag director since 2012, ‘was let go because of his prolonged and active opposition to the governor’s efforts to improve Lake Erie water quality,’ according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity,” reported Jeremy Pelzer at Cleveland.com.
Daniels, however, did not publically speculate about why he was replaced, though he said he was not given a reason.
“I was called down to a meeting and was informed that I worked at the pleasure of the Governor and yesterday would be my last day. There was no explanation. I asked and they again repeated that I served at the pleasure of the Governor and yesterday would be my last day,” Daniels said on Saturday Oct. 20. “I’m not going to speculate. Others have speculated on what the issue might have been and I’m not going to dispute what they believe.”
In his tenure as ODA Director, Daniels said he was proud of the progress made for many aspects of agriculture. Daniels pointed to the long-awaited agreement allowing Ohio’s meat processors to ship products over state lines, the state’s role as a national leader in livestock care standards, and modernization of ODA technology to be more compatible with today’s agriculture.
“I think we accomplished a lot for agricultural producers and the agricultural community as well as the economy of Ohio,” Daniels said. “There were parts of every day that gave me a lot of satisfaction that our Department was doing what we needed to do to advance agriculture in the state and advance Ohio’s economy though agriculture. I have nothing but respect for the people who work at the ODA. We have a great staff out there who care about the work they do. I couldn’t be prouder of the associations I’ve had with those fine people.”
As for the ongoing debate with water quality and agriculture, Daniels said that is not going anywhere and the ODA will continue to play an important role moving forward.
“The water quality discussion will continue. That is a challenge for our producers. I want to give them a lot of credit for the things they have done to implement best management practices on the acres they farm. They are continuing to look for new and innovative ways to keep nutrients on the field while still remaining productive. We need sound practices based in science. Our producers are smart, savvy people doing the best they can to provide for Ohio’s economy and provide the fuel, fiber and energy that our society needs,” he said. “Obviously there will always be more we can do. The role for the ODA will be to facilitate discussions and continue to work with the research being done to find the best management practices to meet the goal we all want, and that is for nutrients to remain on the land by putting in conservation practices that will actually make a difference for the final outcome of water quality.”