Fedor calls for tougher rules on CAFOs Week of 5/31/2021

Staff Writer

A state senator is calling on Gov. Mike DeWine to strengthen rules for corporate agriculture, saying the H2Ohio program isn’t sufficient to significantly reduce phosphorus run-off in the Lake Erie watershed.
Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, said increased accountability for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and stronger requirements for permissible soil phosphorous application rates are needed.
She made the comments during a press conference on Ohio’s impending permit approval for additional CAFOs in the watershed.
“We all remember the three days in August 2014 when Toledo’s water supply was shut down due to the poisonous toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie,” Fedor said. “Nearly seven years later, it’s very frustrating to see that little progress has been made to reduce the amount of phosphorous entering the western Lake Erie basin despite the voluntary efforts of our local farmers.”
The press conference was held in response to Ohio’s recent expansion of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the Western Lake Erie Basin, which, environmentalists argue, will lead to an increase in untreated manure applied to the land.
Runoff contaminated by untreated manure contains high levels of phosphorous, a chemical that enters Lake Erie by way of streams and other waterways. These toxins contribute to increases in algal blooms, tainting the water in the Lake Erie watershed region.
Sen. Fedor called on Gov. DeWine to require H2Ohio to change CAFO requirements for new and renewal permits to require a soil phosphorous rate of 50 parts per million, rather than the 150 ppm currently allowed.
“Governor DeWine needs to do more to protect Lake Erie if he wants to tout Ohio tourism,” Fedor said. “The measures his administration is implementing now are counterproductive and causing our progress in reducing phosphorus to backside with severe impacts on public health, property values and the longevity of our natural resources.
“We must require corporate agriculture to pull its weight in the effort to protect our great Lake Erie because right now, ratepayers are footing the bill. It is our responsibility as elected officials to be good stewards for our water ways.”
In April 2020, the Ohio Department of Agriculture issued a statement praising Ohio farmers’ participation in the H2Ohio signup for voluntary conservation through best practices to reduce phosphorus in the Maumee River Watershed.
“Nearly 2,000 farmers submitted applications to enroll more than 1.1 million acres. This far exceeded expectations for the agricultural portion of the H2O program,” said Dorothy Pelander, director of the agriculture department.
But she acknowledged the pandemic has forced a re-evaluation of the department’s budget for the H2Ohio initiative.


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