During the past two months, the Toledo water crisis and the quality of Lake Erie's water have brought the blue-green algae issue back into the forefront of media, and agriculture has been the focus of significant public scrutiny.
ODPA has worked in collaboration Ohio's agricultural organizations and the Ohio Farm Bureau to monitor the issue, craft media responses and provide talking points for our farmer spokespersons to address the issue and answer questions. We have also engaged with elected and regulatory officials to address their questions and concerns.
Some of Ohio's legislators have responded to the Toledo water crisis by introducing legislation that would require all dairy farms to be regulated and follow strict rules for manure management, storage and application during winter months. As you are aware, dairy farms with over 700 cows are already regulated and certified by the ODA Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, are required to have nutrient management plans, and are prohibited from hauling manure on frozen and snow covered ground.
To educate Ohio's elected officials before they go back into session this fall, ODPA hosted two "Milk House Chats" and dairy farm tours in cooperation with Senate Ag Committee Chairman Cliff Hite and House Ag Committee Chairman David Hall.
At these events, legislators and their staff learned more about dairy farming and manure management, and heard first-hand what it takes to manage a dairy farm. The dairy farmers attending the events offered great insight and one-on-one interaction. Each participant left the farm with a new perspective and a better understanding of how dairy farmers take livestock care and environmental stewardship seriously.
ODPA sincerely thanks the Broering Dairy Farm in Mercer Co. and the Ayers Dairy Farm in Ashland Co. for hosting the legislator tours. We look forward to hosting more Milk House Chats and dairy farm tours throughout the year as legislators express interest in learning more about livestock farms.