Ohio Commission Delays Vote To Tighten Fertilizer Rules

Jul 20, 2018

A panel largely appointed by Republican Gov. John Kasich has delayed immediate action on his executive order intensifying Ohio's efforts to fight toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission on Thursday agreed to further study the issue after farmers and some legislative Republicans raised concerns.

Kasich wanted the commission to allow his agriculture director to declare eight watersheds in distress, which would trigger new rules for farmers on how they manage fertilizer and manure runoff. The rules would also makes offenders liable for civil penalties.

Republican House Speaker Ryan Smith and House Agriculture chair Brian Hill, a Zanesville Republican, had said they were disappointed that such a major policy directive side-stepped lawmakers. The order could affect about 7,000 Ohio farmers.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation commended the commission for taking more time with the issue. Farmers have called Kasich's plan "government overreach," and said they're already doing what they can to stop runoff.

Last week, Kasich declined to re-appoint two commission members who planned to vote against the watershed designations.