Water quality initiative in the works

Staff Writer

A collaboration of stakeholders representing the agriculture, conservation, environmental and research communities has joined forces to develop a statewide water quality initiative.
The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Ohio, where sub-committees focusing on best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach discussed strategies for introducing and implementing the program.
Much of the conversation centered on identifying the path to healthy waterways in the state, and the complex approaches necessary to understand existing practices and successfully engage farmers in education and certification.
“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, chief executive officer of the Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group. “Agriculture has an important role in implementing continuous improvement efforts to reduce nutrient runoff, and this initiative will work toward broad-scale adoption of best management practices by Ohio’s farmers.”
Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, said the participants share a common goal.
“Bringing these diverse interests to the same table is a significant accomplishment, and we all share a common goal of clean water for all Ohioans,” she said. “There is a shared sense of urgency towards finding solutions to our state’s water quality issue, and this all-inclusive approach to inventory farm practices and build a farmer certification program is a positive step in the process.”
Similar 4R certification programs have been used by the retail fertilizer industry.
More information will be available in the coming months as the group launches a website and other resources.


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