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News & Press: OTF News

Green Industry Advocacy Day Recap

Tuesday, March 10, 2015  
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Written by Andrew Muntz, OTF Trustee 

On February 25, members from green industry organizations from across the state met at the State house to discuss issues that effect and influence our day to day practices. The groups represented at the event included the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation, Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association, Nursery Growers of Lake County Ohio, Ohio Landscape Association, Ohio Lawn Care Association, Ohio Pest Management Association, and Ohio Professional Applicators for Responsible Regulation. The room was packed as members of these groups were able to hear from and speak with representatives, senators, and other members of the state government.

The morning began with speakers Senator Bob Petersen (Senate Ways & Means Committee), Chairman Brian Hill (House Agriculture Committee), and Representative John Patterson (House Agriculture committee). Each of these speakers has a special place for the green industry either as a practicing member or representing a large constituency of green industry members. At lunch, the group heard from Joe Testa from the Ohio Department of Taxation. He, along with other members of the legislature, where fresh off of the Governor’s State of the State address, the night before in Wilmington. At the State of the State address, Governor Kasich introduced his budget proposal for the upcoming years. Mr. Testa was eager to share the concepts involved, as well as fielding questions from the group.

The afternoon was filled with meetings with both representatives and senators from across the state. Each member of the group met with their respective congressmen and women from their voting districts. During these meetings, many issues and topics were discussed, but there were a few headline issues that took center stage.

Biennial Operating Budgets:

As a group we supported the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s budget as is, which includes the necessary increases in funding to support the fertilizer certifications addressed in Senate Bill 150. Another topic brought up when talking about the budget, was how important the OARDC and OSU extension teams are to our industry. We rely heavily on them for new research and education and expressed our appreciation for these groups to the legislators.

Water Quality:

As most of you are aware, water quality is an extremely hot topic throughout the state (and country). After the issues last summer in Toledo with algae blooms and the crisis that the local residents had to deal with, many across the state have taken action. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have been working on bills that would address some of these issues. SB 1 and HB 61 are front and center to help deal with the water quality across the state. The basic highlights of the bills include:

- prohibiting the application of fertilizer and manure on frozen ground and during certain water conditions in the western basin of Lake Erie

- Termination of the prohibitions after 5 years

- moving the Ag Pollution Abatement Program from ODNR to ODA

- requirements for phosphorous monitoring for publicly owned treatment works

- beginning July 2020, prohibits deposit of dredged material in Lake Erie and Tributaries

- changes to the Healthy Lake Erie Fund

- Requires the Director of OEPA to coordinate harmful algae management and response

We will be sure to keep you updated as these bills progress. 

Pollinators were also discussed throughout the day. As we know, there are concerns over the effects of products we use during the year on the honey bee population. There are many issues that affect the health of the bee hives, and as a group we wanted law makers to know that we share the concerns of the public and we support the efforts to improve pollinator habitats and the research needed to determine the decline in populations.

Water quantity was the last major topic discussed. As an industry we can agree that our plants cannot survive without water. We also can generally agree that we need to use our water intelligently, so that future generations can enjoy the green industry as we know it today. One of the highlights was the proclamation that was made by the Governor to declare July as Smart Irrigation Month.

The day was full of great meetings and interactions with both legislators and our colleagues in the industry. As a group, one of the major points of emphasis to the legislators is that we are here as a resource to them. We are a tight knit group that can act as a voice if they are ever in question of the issues at hand.

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