ODA Responds to Criticism

Staff Writer

A statement from the Ohio Department of Agriculture was sent to local media outlets near Grand Lake St. Marys in response to the a proposed legislation change to the distressed watershed rules package. The new proposal removes the winter manure ban and replaces it with a set of conditions in which the spreading of manure would be possible as long as certain weather conditions are met. 

News of these proposed changes came the day of the LIA’s monthly meeting, when Dr. Stephen Jacquemin presented those in attendance with data showing the decrease in microcystin toxin levels in the lake. According to Jacquemin and the data he has been collecting, 2018 has been the best year GLSM has seen in 10 years in terms of toxin levels and clarity of the water. 

In an academic article, authored by Jacquemin, that was recently published details scientific proof the lakes toxins levels are down, and attributes that data to the success of the winter manure ban. It also cites nutrient management and best management practices by producers in the watershed as contributing factors, with the winter manure ban being the most significant factor.

Brett Gates, deputy communications director for ODA reached out to The Evening Leader to explain that, “the rules were resubmitted for public comment on Aug. 27, not Aug. 31.” Rentz, Jacquemin and Nikki Hawk, district administrator/education specialist for the Mercer Soil & Water Conservation District, were not made aware of the details of the proposal changes before they were publically release. 

The LIA released a statement on Sunday afternoon, stating the LIA feel the quiet release was “unbecoming as it seems like an attempt to skirt public reaction.”

In the same statement, the LIA encouraged its members to email the ODA, and their representatives, to voice disposition with the proposal changes. 

Comments about the proposed changes can be emailed to  AGReComments@agri.ohio.gov and will be received until Sept. 7. The LIA’s website, LakeImprovement.com, also has a template available for anyone to use if they choose to reach out to ODA.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the Sept. 5 edition of The Evening Leader.