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Ohio Ag Conservation Initiative Reacts to NOAA Algae Forecast
Ohio Ag Connection - 07/10/2020

Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final Lake Erie summer algae bloom forecast. It indicates a harmful algal bloom severity of 4.5. Last year's western Lake Erie harmful algal bloom was the fifth largest on record, with a severity of 7.3.

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) issued the following statements:

"Ohio's farmers have long demonstrated their commitment to doing what is right and actions are being taken, even during this pandemic, to bring about real and meaningful improvements in Lake Erie's water quality," said Kris Swartz, chair of OACI and northwest Ohio farmer. "To date, farmers working 43 percent of the cropland in the 14-county H2Ohio region have applied for funds to implement established best practices, and OACI is preparing a certification program that will soon be available to farmers across the state."

"We know that there is not one simple solution to address the critical and complex issue of harmful algal blooms," said Pete Bucher, vice-chair of OACI and managing director of water policy at the Ohio Environmental Council. "A collaborative, all-of-the-above approach is essential to improving Lake Erie water quality and ensuring safe drinking water. We are proud to work alongside agriculture, academic, environmental and regulatory leaders on a number of pragmatic, science-based, strategic solutions that will protect our waterways, including the OACI certification program."

OACI has been working diligently over the past few months to benchmark agricultural best practices and create a framework for voluntary certification of Ohio's farms, all to support healthy waterways in the state. Specifically, to improve Ohio's water quality, OACI is focusing on establishing a baseline understanding of current conservation and nutrient management efforts on farm fields and building farmer participation in a new certification program.

OACI partners include: American Farmland Trust, Environmental Defense Fund, National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University, Ohio AgriBusiness Association, Ohio Cattlemen's Association, Ohio Conservation Federation, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio Soybean Council, The Fertilizer Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences.

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