Ohio farmers face new manure handling practices

Ohio farmers will have new restrictions on handling manure come June 21, after Ohio Gov. John Kasich in early April signed into law a Senate bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality.

As of June 21, farmers in the western Lake Erie Basin may not apply manure under any of the following circumstances:

  • On snow-covered or frozen soil;
  • When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation; or
  • When the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24-hour period.

As with any rule, there are exceptions, and the above stipulations are enforced unless the manure is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application, or applied onto a growing crop.

In the event of an emergency, the chief of the division of soil and water resources or the chief’s designee can provide written consent for the manure application to be made in accordance with procedures established in the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service Practice Standard Code 590 for Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has the authority to investigate complaints of potential violations and assess penalties, not to exceed $10,000 per violation. Each day of violation will be considered a separate occurrence.

Producers may apply for exemptions, through the chief of the division of soil and water resources, of up to one year for “medium” agricultural operations (750-2,499 pigs) and up to two years for “small” agricultural operations (<750 pigs), if the operation demonstrates working toward compliance. An operation may request technical assistance to reach compliance, and will not be subject to civil penalties for violations.

To utilize manure from a permitted concentrated animal feeding facility, a person must hold either a Certified Livestock Manager license or certification under Ohio’s fertilizer applicator certification program created through Senate Bill 150 last year. The provision pertains only if applying the manure for agricultural production on more than 50 acres.

For additional information, visit OhioPork.org.

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