Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that 800 producers in the 10-county H2Ohio expansion area of the Western Lake Erie Basin have enrolled 600,000 additional acres in the program. These applications represent nearly $11.5 million in H2Ohio practice incentives and approximately 36 percent of the cropland in the project area.
“High enrollment among farmers shows their commitment to improving our state’s water quality,” Governor DeWine said. “It is my hope that more producers will choose to become a part of this effort as H2Ohio continues to expand. Together, these Best Management Practices will make a big difference.”
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s portion of the H2Ohio program incentivizes producers for implementing Best Management Practices (BMP) to help reduce nutrient runoff into waterways. It was originally rolled out in 14 counties of the Maumee River Watershed, then expanded to 10 more to include all of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB).
“ODA couldn’t be happier to work alongside these farmers to implement proven conservation practices on some of Ohio’s most productive agricultural land,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda. “As we expand forward into an additional 10 counties to include all of the Western Lake Erie Basin, our farmers have been the biggest supporters in this effort, a critical piece in Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative to improve water quality in Ohio.”
In the expansion area, all producers signed up for Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP). VNMPs provide a science-based foundation from which all other BMPs can be built. A completed and approved VNMP is required for each producer enrolled in H2Ohio. Producers also enrolled nearly 64,000 acres in Conservation Crop Rotation and more than 130,000 acres in Cover Crops.
Enrollment in the 10-county WLEB expansion area closed on October 15. Enrollment in the original 14 county area was reopened and remains open until January 15, 2022. Producers can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District for information.
“The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative appreciates the great work and success of H2Ohio as the initiative to improve conservation and water quality expands across our state,” said Kris Swartz, OACI chair and northwest Ohio farmer. “The number of farmers who have enrolled such a large number of acres demonstrates the desire farmers have to protect the state’s valuable water resources. We look forward to continuing to partner with ODA to support the integral work of H2Ohio.”
The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative has been a valuable partner in H2Ohio and has helped to gain producer interest. Farmers taking part in H2Ohio must also enroll in the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative’s Farmer Certification Program at OhioACI.org, which will gather information about what farmers are proactively implementing on their farms to support healthy soil and water and what they could be doing more of by utilizing H2Ohio funding.