The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) applauds Ohio farmers’ demonstration of voluntary conservation through the overwhelming sign up of H2Ohio best practices to reduce phosphorus in the Maumee River Watershed. Nearly 2,000 farmers submitted applications to enroll more than more than 1.1 million acres. This far exceeded expectations for the agricultural portion of the H2Ohio program.
While the rollout of the program was very thoughtfully executed, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a necessary reevaluation of ODA’s budget for the H2Ohio Initiative. ODA is committed to working within the Administration’s budgetary guidelines and will communicate with farmers the status of H2Ohio going forward based upon those guidelines once they are known.
Ohio Farm Bureau issued this statement in response: “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to state budgeting and it is likely that H2Ohio funds will be negatively affected. Despite this, Ohio Farm Bureau has been working with ODA and the DeWine administration to gain clarity on what dollars will be available for the H2Ohio program. At this time, Ohio Farm Bureau recommends producers not make any major investments that would be dependent on a H2Ohio funding application, but we are strongly encouraging farmers to continue the important conservation practices they are undertaking so that agriculture can continue to improve Lake Erie’s water quality.”