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Ohio waterway with trees in background and lily pads in foreground.
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, July 17th, 2024

Ohio’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Program will soon see some changes under Senate Bill 156, recently passed by the Ohio General Assembly.  The legislature forwarded those changes to the governor on July 16.  Governor DeWine is expected to sign the bill, which had unusually high non-partisan support with only one legislator voting against the measure.

The legislature’s focus on the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Program began with concerns from owners of private land that abuts watercourses designated under the program as wild, scenic, or recreational. Ohio currently has 15 designated watercourses comprising 27 stream segments and just over 830 river miles.  Many of the designated watercourses are along agricultural lands.

Those landowner concerns initiated a program review and led to the revisions enacted by the legislature in S.B. 156, which makes the following changes.

  • Transfers the authority to administer the program from the Division of Parks and Watercraft to the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP) in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
  • Narrows DNAP’s scope of authority to the watercourses that are designated as wild, scenic, and recreational rivers, rather than to wild, scenic, and recreational river “areas” as under the current law.
  • States that a watercourse designation does not affect private property rights or authorize the Director of Natural Resources, DNAP Chief, or any governmental agency or political subdivision to restrict the use of private land adjacent to a designated river.
  • States that the law does not give any right to the above parties to enter upon private land.
  • Expands the types of watercourses subject to designation as a wild, scenic, or recreational river to include the headwaters of those rivers.
  • Requires DNAP to perform certain duties regarding publicly owned land along a designated river, including both of the following:
    • To adopt rules governing the use, visitation, and protection of scenic river lands and other specified publicly owned lands administered by DNAP within the watersheds of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers; and
    • To establish facilities and improvements within the system of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers, scenic river lands, and other specified publicly owned lands that are necessary for their visitation, use, restoration, and protection and that do not impair their natural character.
  • Requires the DNAP Chief to adopt rules establishing fees and charges for the use of facilities in nature preserves, scenic river lands, and on publicly owned lands.
  • Clarifies that certain public entities must obtain approval from the ODNR Director if specified construction activities are performed within 1,000 feet of a wild, scenic, or recreational river.
  • Requires the ODNR Director to post the intention to declare a watercourse as a wild, scenic, or recreational river on DNAP’s website.
  • Allows the DNAP Chief to accept, receive, and expend gifts, devises, or bequests of money, land, or other properties for purposes of the wild, scenic, and recreational river program.

Learn more about S.B. 156 on the Ohio legislature’s website.  Information on Ohio’s Scenic Rivers Program is on ODNR’s website.

Pile of compost up close
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Thursday, June 20th, 2024

Applying Ohio’s “agricultural exemption” from zoning is a constant challenge for county and township zoning officials. A township in Logan County faced that challenge when a landowner claimed its composting facility to be an agricultural land use that is exempt from township zoning authority.  After obtaining a composting permit from the Ohio EPA, the landowner established the compost facility, despite the township’s disagreement that the facility qualified for the “agricultural exemption.” 

When there is uncertainty about the meaning or application of a law such as the Logan County zoning situation, Ohio law allows a county prosecutor to request a legal opinion from the Ohio Attorney General (Ohio AG).  That’s exactly what the Logan County Prosecuting Attorney did, directing four questions to the Ohio AG that relate to how township zoning regulations, the agricultural exemption, and state permitting laws apply to the compost facility.  The Ohio AG’s resulting opinion offers helpful guidance for rural zoning officials who face the challenge of understanding whether a land use is an agricultural land use that is exempt from zoning. It also provides an explanation of the relationship between state issued permits and local zoning authority.

Here’s a summary of the Ohio AG’s response to the questions the Logan County prosecutor raised.

1. Is a compost facility considered “agriculture” that is exempt from township zoning under the agricultural exemption, and if not, is it subject to township zoning?  

Logan County didn’t receive a definitive answer to this question.  Instead, the Ohio AG explained that it does not have the authority to answer a question of fact.  It is the township zoning officials who must determine whether land is “agriculture” for purposes of the agricultural exemption, based upon the facts of the specific situation.  In doing so, the township may exercise its discretion and examine any factors necessary and relevant to making its decision, including the nature and character of all activities conducted on the land as well as activities to prepare an agricultural product that are not conducted on the land at issue, and the township’s decision is subject to judicial review.

The Ohio AG did, however, provide a useful summary of the agricultural exemption provisions in Ohio Revised Code sections 519.01 and 519.21, which apply to townships, as follows: 

  • ORC 519.01 provides a definition of “agriculture” as “farming; ranching; algaculture meaning the farming of algae; aquaculture; apiculture; horticulture; viticulture; animal husbandry, including, but not limited to, the care and raising of livestock, equine, and fur-bearing animals; poultry husbandry and the production of poultry and poultry products; dairy production; the production of field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, flowers, sod, or mushrooms; timber; pasturage; any combination of the foregoing; and the processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products when those activities are conducted in conjunction with, but are secondary to, such husbandry or production.” 
  • The opinion explained that the terms “in conjunction with” and “secondary to” in the emphasized language above carry common meanings: “in conjunction with” means “occurring together” and “secondary to” means “of second rank, importance or value.” Because “composting” is not specifically listed in the agriculture definition, it must be done “in conjunction with” and “secondary to” the production of the agricultural products used for the composting.  The Ohio AG stated that, “If the composting facility is located on land that does not engage in agri-cultural activity, composts agricultural products that are not produced on its premises, or does not use the compost on its premises, then the composting facility is likely not “agriculture” pursuant to R.C. 519.01.”
  • ORC 519.21(A) contains the limitation on power that is the agricultural exemption:  “the Revised Code confers no power on any township zoning commission, board of township trustees, or board of zoning appeals to prohibit the use of any land for agricultural purposes or the construction or use of buildings or structures incident to the use for agricultural purposes of the land on which such buildings or structures are located . . . and no zoning certificate shall be required for any such building or structure.” 
  • The Ohio AG explained that taken together, ORC 519.01 and ORC 519.21(A) require that land on which the secondary agricultural activities of processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products occurs or land on which a building or structure is located must “be primarily used for an agricultural purpose to qualify for an exemption from the township zoning resolutions.” Conversely, agricultural activities that are merely an accommodation to a business are not “agriculture” under ORC 519.01 and could be regulated as a commercial use under township zoning regulations.

2. Can township zoning resolutions regulate composting facilities by considering such as a “conditional use” if the zoning resolution does not explicitly address composting as a permitted or conditional use? 

A simple explanation by the Ohio AG answered this question.  According to Ohio law, A township may only regulate a non-agriculture composting facility as a conditional use if the township zoning resolution includes composting or solid waste facilities as permitted conditional uses in the applicable zoning district.

3. What recourse does a township have if a composting facility claims to be exempt from zoning due to the agricultural exemption, even though composting is not included in the agricultural exemption statute? 

For a violation of a zoning resolution or a question regarding the interpretation of a township zoning resolution, the Ohio AG explained that a township may choose to utilize the remedies outlined in ORC 519.23 and ORC 519.24.  Those remedies include a criminal cause of action and fines or an action to enjoin or abate a violation.

4. Does a township have any recourse if the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) issues a permit for a composting facility when a property owner failed to secure a local zoning permit?

In response to this question, the Ohio AG explained that while some laws do preempt local authority over a land use, the state solid waste laws do not “supersede the authority of a township to enact zoning regulations.”  This means that a township is not required to permit a facility simply because the Ohio EPA issues a permit for it. The Ohio AG concluded that if a township determines that a composting facility is not “agriculture” and not exempt from zoning under the agricultural exemption, that facility then would be subject to the township zoning regulations and Ohio EPA composting facility regulations.

Read Ohio Attorney General Opinion No. 2024-004 in the Opinions Database on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, June 05th, 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA) is asking the agricultural community to weigh in on a new program aimed at the voluntary carbon market in the U.S.  The agency has published a Request for Information seeking input on what the agency should consider in developing rules for the new “Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program.”  The purpose of the new program, created by the passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act last year, is to facilitate farmer, rancher, and private forest landowner participation in voluntary carbon markets by: (1) publishing a list of widely accepted protocols designed to ensure consistency, reliability, effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of voluntary credit markets; (2) publishing descriptions of widely accepted qualifications possessed by covered entities that provide technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners; (3) publishing a list of qualified technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers; and (4) providing information to assist farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in accessing voluntary credit markets.

Farmers haven’t engaged in the voluntary carbon market to the extent some predicted several years ago, when “carbon agreements” began circulating through the agricultural community.  A carbon agreement is a private  contract that compensates a farmer for adopting practices that sequester carbon, with one ton of sequestered carbon creating a “carbon credit.”  Those who pay farmers for the carbon credits can retain the credits or trade the credits through a carbon market.  The owner of the carbon credits can use the credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of reducing their “carbon footprint.”

According to USDA Secretary Vilsack, “high-integrity voluntary carbon markets offer a promising tool to create new revenue streams for producers and achieve greenhouse gas reductions from the agriculture and forest sectors.  However, a variety of barriers have hindered agriculture’s participation in voluntary carbon markets and we are seeking to change that by establishing a new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program.”  In its Request for Information, the agency seeks responses to eight questions:

Question 1: How should USDA define the terms “consistency,” “reliability,” “effectiveness,” “efficiency,” and “transparency” (see 7 U.S.C. 6712(c)(1)(A)) for use in protocol evaluation?

Question 2: What metrics or standards should USDA use to evaluate a protocol's alignment with each of the five criteria to be defined in Question 1? What should USDA consider as minimum criteria for a protocol to qualify for listing under the Program?

Question 3: In general, after a new protocol is published, how long does it take for a project to use the protocol and be issued credits ( i.e., what is the lag time between protocol publication and first credit generation)?

Question 4: Which protocol(s) for generating voluntary carbon credits from agriculture and forestry projects should USDA evaluate for listing through the Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program?

Question 5: Additional information for any protocol(s) identified under Question 4.

Question 6: How should USDA evaluate technical assistance providers (TAP)? What should be the minimum qualifications, certifications, and/or expertise for a TAP to qualify for listing under the Program?

Question 7: Should the qualifications and/or registration process be different for entities and individuals that seek to register as a TAP?

Question 8: What should be the minimum qualifications and expertise for a third-party verifier to qualify for registration under the Program?

The agency will accept comments on the questions until June 28, 2024.

Part of a broader policy initiative

USDA announced the Request for Information on the same day that Secretary Vilsack, Energy Secretary Granholm, and Treasury Secretary Yellen, published a Joint Statement of Policy and Principles for Voluntary Carbon Markets, which outlines seven principles for the government’s approach to advancing “high-integrity voluntary credit markets,” summarized in a White House Fact Sheet:

  1. Carbon credits and the activities that generate them should meet credible atmospheric integrity standards and represent real decarbonization.
  2. Credit-generating activities should avoid environmental and social harm and should, where applicable, support co-benefits and transparent and inclusive benefits-sharing.
  3. Corporate buyers that use credits should prioritize measurable emissions reductions within their own value chains.
  4. Credit users should publicly disclose the nature of purchased and retired credits.
  5. Public claims by credit users should accurately reflect the climate impact of retired credits and should only rely on credits that meet high integrity standards.
  6. Market participants should contribute to efforts that improve market integrity.
  7. Policymakers and market participants should facilitate efficient market participation and seek to lower transaction costs.

The recent USDA announcements once again suggest that there are many issues for farmers considering engaging in the carbon market.  Caution is usually warranted when dealing with a new, developing market.  For farmers who do want to enter into the carbon market, be sure to refer to our posts on Carbon as a commodity for agriculture? and Considering carbon farming? Take time to understand carbon agreements.  The Farmers Legal Action Group also has an excellent publication on Farmers Guide to Carbon Market Contracts in Minnesota, also useful for Ohio farmers.

 

Lake Erie with sunset in background
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

A new chapter is developing in the legal battle over resolving water quality problems in the Western Lake Erie Basin.  Earlier this month, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, City of Toledo, and Environmental Law & Policy Center filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The lawsuit targets the EPA’s approval of Ohio’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan for the Maumee River Watershed. If it feels like déjà vu, that’s because it is. In the ten years since Toledo experienced a drinking water crisis caused by harmful algal blooms in the Western Basin, there have been four federal lawsuits demanding a plan for improving water quality in the lake and a legal battle to protect the lake with a “Lake Erie Bill of Rights.”

The current litigation arises from a 2023 settlement agreement that led the Ohio EPA to create the TMDL for the Maumee River Watershed.  A TMDL establishes a framework for future decisions that affect water quality by identifying the links between sources of impairment and pollutant load reductions necessary to reduce impairment and attain water quality standards. The EPA reviewed and approved Ohio EPA’s Maumee River WatershedTMDL last year, against opposition from environmental groups and the parties in the current lawsuit. That approval of the TMDL is the source of the new lawsuit.

According to the plaintiffs, the EPA should not have approved the Maumee River Watershed TMDL because it “will not remediate Lake Erie.” The parties claim that the plan “fails to limit pollution caused by dissolved reactive phosphorus and does not meaningfully address the concentrated feeding operations, or CAFOs, that are responsible for polluting the watershed.” In support of their argument, the parties cite the following five “legal defects” in the plan, each an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act: 

  1. Failure to set Dissolved Reactive Phosphorous (DRP) limits.
  2. Failure to set an adequate “margin of safety” that accounts for lack of knowledge about the relationship between effluent limitations and water quality.
  3. Failure to assign waste load allocations to discharging CAFOs.
  4. Failure to apportion load allocations to all nonpoint sources.
  5. Inadequate implementation plan and failure to provide reasonable assurances.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to vacate the current Maumee River Watershed TMDL and order the EPA to prepare a new TMDL that “will actually clean up Lake Erie.”

What does this mean for Ohio agriculture?

If the plaintiffs are successful, the lawsuit could result in the preparation of a new TMDL for the Western Basin.  The current Maumee River Watershed TMDL plan prepared by the Ohio EPA encourages an “adaptive management” approach for agricultural activities, based on voluntary adoption of management practices coupled with monitoring and progress evaluation. A new TMDL could more directly affect agricultural activities, particularly if the EPA agrees with the plaintiffs’ arguments that the TMDL should  assign waste load allocations to discharging CAFOs and apportion load allocations to all nonpoint sources. But remember that the EPA approved the current TMDL plan, suggesting that the agency will not be inclined to make significant alterations if the court orders it to prepare a new plan.

Other than the possibility of a new TMDL, the lawsuit does not directly affect agricultural operations right now.  It does not name any specific farms or bring them into the litigation.  The lawsuit does not affect current voluntary efforts to reduce water quality impacts, such as H2Ohio. 

Nor is the litigation likely to generate additional lawsuits against agricultural operations that currently comply with all applicable laws, a question we've heard from some producers in the Maumee River watershed.  Several Ohio laws provide defenses to such lawsuits and those laws will continue to be in effect throughout the federal litigation, unless the Ohio legislature makes any changes to the laws.  Those legal defenses, explained in our law bulletin on “Laws that Provide Defenses for Agricultural Production Activities,” apply to operations that meet the specific requirements of the laws and include:

  • The Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training (FACT) defense for claims involving the application of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and plant nutrients.
  • The Right to Farm Law defense and exemption from Statutory Nuisance for allegations that agricultural activities are creating a nuisance that unreasonably interferes with health, comfort, or property rights.
  • The Ohio Agricultural Pollution Abatement Law for nuisance claims involving “agricultural pollution,” defined as the failure to use practices to abate erosion, or degradation of waters of the State by residual farm products, manure, or soil sediment.
  • The Confined Animal Feeding Facilities (CAFF) defense for nuisance claims against farms operating under a CAFF permit.

What happens next?

The EPA is likely to respond to the complaint with a request that the federal court dismiss the claim, and we probably won’t see a decision on that request before the end of the year. If the court declines to dismiss the case, the plaintiffs must then convince the court that the current TMDL plan does not comply with the Clean Water Act. Arguments will focus on the five legal defects presented by the plaintiffs. As has been true for the previous litigation, a decision would take a year or more. Yet again, we await the outcome of a Lake Erie lawsuit.

Read the complaint in Lucas County Commissioners v. EPA.

Posted In: Environmental
Tags: Lake Erie, tmdl, western basin
Comments: 0
The Federal Trade Commission Website.
By: Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Monday, April 29th, 2024

As April comes to a close, we bring you another edition of the Ag Law Harvest. This month’s harvest brings you laws and regulations from across the country regarding a national drinking water standard, the Endangered Species Act, Ag-Gag laws, noncompete agreements, and pollution. 

EPA Finalizes First-Ever PFAS Drinking Water Standards
Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced a final rule, issuing the “first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals’”. The final rule sets legally enforceable maximum contaminant levels for six PFAS chemicals in public water systems. The EPA also announced nearly $1 billion in new funding to “help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination.” The EPA suggests that this final rule “will reduce PFAS exposure for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses.” 

Interior Deptartment Finalizes Rule to Strengthen Endangered Species Act
The Department of the Interior has announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These revisions aim to enhance participation in voluntary conservation programs by promoting native species conservation. They achieve this by clarifying and simplifying permitting processes under Section 10(a) of the ESA, encouraging greater involvement from resource managers and landowners in these voluntary initiatives. For more information about Section 10 of the ESA visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.

Kentucky Passes Ag-Gag Statute
On April 12, 2024, the Kentucky legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass Senate Bill 16 into law. The new law, titled “An Act Relating to Agricultural Key Infrastructure Assets,” expands the definition of “key infrastructure assets” to include commercial food manufacturing or processing facilities, animal feeding operations, and concentrated animal feeding operations. It criminalizes trespassing on such properties with unmanned aircraft systems, recording devices, or photography equipment without the owner's consent. The first offense is a Class B misdemeanor with up to 90 days imprisonment and a $250 fine, while subsequent offenses are Class A misdemeanors with up to 12 months imprisonment and a $500 fine.

Federal Trade Commission Bans Non-Compete Agreements
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a final rule banning noncompete agreements and clauses nationwide. This move aims to promote competition by safeguarding workers’ freedom to change jobs, increasing innovation and the formation of new businesses. Under the FTC’s new rule, existing noncompetes for the vast majority of workers will no longer be enforceable after the rule’s effective date. However, existing noncompetes for senior executives – those earning more than $151,164 annually and in policy making positions – remain enforceable under the new rule. Employers will have to notify workers bound to an existing noncompete that the noncompete agreement will not be enforced against the worker in the future. The final rule will become effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.  

EPA Announces New Rules to Reduce Pollution from Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) unveiled a set of final rules designed to decrease pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants. These rules, developed under various laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, aim to protect communities from pollution and improve public health while maintaining reliable electricity supply. They are expected to substantially reduce climate, air, water, and land pollution from the power industry, aligning with the Biden-Harris Administration's goals of promoting public health, advancing environmental justice, and addressing climate change.

 

Ohio Statehouse with daffodils in foreground
By: Ellen Essman, Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

The Ohio General Assembly is back in Columbus after the March 19th primary election, and committee schedules are already filling up. Given the increased activity in recent weeks, we thought it was a good time to examine what has happened legislatively this year up until this point.

H.B. 64—Eminent Domain. This bill was first introduced by Representatives Kick (R-Loudonville) and Creech (R-West Alexandria) in February of 2023. The bill’s purpose is to make it more difficult for governmental agencies or private entities to take private property through eminent domain. On February 6, 2024, the bill was updated with a Substitute House Bill 64 in the House Civil Justice Committee.

The previous version of the bill excluded recreational trails from the definition of “public use,” meaning that property could not be taken by a government agency for recreational trails. The current version of the bill narrows this language, allowing for a taking for the purpose of creating recreational trails, but not in cases where the property is not adjacent to a public road and where the property’s primary use will be for a recreational trail.

Another substantial change between the versions involves compensation offers from the government entity to the landowner. In the original version of the bill, a government entity would not have been allowed to reduce an offer made to purchase property before proceedings commenced if the reduction was based on hard-to-discover issues with the property. The current version would exclude this provision, restoring an agency’s authority to reduce offers.

Substitute House Bill 64 would also make changes to compensation and awards landowners could receive if the issue goes to court.

H.B. 197—Solar Development. Sponsored by Representatives Hoops (R-Napoleon) and Ray (R-Wadsworth), H.B. 197 would establish a the community solar pilot program and the solar development program. Under the language of the bill, a “community solar facility” is defined as a single facility with at least three subscribers and a nameplate capacity of 10 megawatts or less, or 20 megawatts or less if on a distressed site. Furthermore, the bill would require The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to establish a Community Solar Pilot Program of 250 megawatts on sites in the Appalachian region of the state. The bill would also amend the state competitive retail electric service policy to encourage community solar facilities in the state and allow subscribers to community solar facilities to receive monthly electric bill offsets.

H.B. 324—Motor Fuel. Introduced by Representatives McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) and Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) in November of 2023, H.B. 324 passed the House on February 7, 2024 and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on February 27. 

If passed, the bill would authorize a temporary, nonrefundable income or CAT tax credit of 5 cents per gallon for retail dealers who sell high-ethanol blend motor fuel containing between 15-85% ethanol. The tax credit would be limited to five years or to a total of $10 million, whichever occurs first.

H.B. 327—Employee Verification. H.B. 327, introduced by Representatives Wiggam (R-Wayne County), and Swearingen (R-Huron), had its first committee hearing in House Commerce & Labor on February 13, 2024. The bill would require political subdivisions, private employers employing 75 individuals within the state of Ohio, and nonresidential construction contractors to verify each new employee’s work eligibility through the federal E-verify program. E-Verify is an online program that helps employers verify employees’ eligibility for employment. If the bill were to pass, the employer would be required to keep a record of the verification for the duration of the employee’s employment, or three years, whichever is longer. During testimony on the bill, Representatives Wiggam and Swearingen indicated an interest in possibly lowering the employee threshold, citing Florida’s 25 employee threshold.

H.B. 347—Farming Equipment Taxes. This bill was introduced by Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in early December of 2023. Since then, the bill has been heard in committee twice, once in January, and once in February, both times without testimony. The bill would change the way farmers claim a tax exemption on certain purchases.

Currently, when an Ohioan engaged in farming, agriculture, horticulture, or floriculture is buying a product for “agricultural use,” they must provide the seller with an exemption certificate. This certificate comes from the Ohio Department of Taxation and relieves the seller of the obligation to collect the sales tax on behalf of the state. However, the Department of Taxation can later determine that the purchase does not qualify for exemption, and then the farmer would be expected to pay the tax.

H.B. 347 would slightly alter this current way of doing things when it comes to the purchase of certain vehicles and trailers. Under the bill, the purchaser could receive an agricultural use exemption for taxes on these vehicles if the purchaser shows the seller copies of the purchaser’s Schedule F—the federal income tax profit of loss from farming form—for three most recent preceding years. Alternatively, a farmer could obtain a certificate from the Department of Taxation verifying that they have filed a Schedule F for three years in lieu of providing the forms directly to the seller. Notably, the bill states that “no other documentation or explanation shall be required by the vendor or the tax commissioner” to prove that the purchase qualifies for the agricultural use exemption.

The following vehicles and trailers would be included under the bill:

  • Trailers, excluding watercraft trailers;
  • Utility vehicles, (vehicles with a bed, principally for the purpose of transporting material or cargo in connection with construction, agricultural, forestry, grounds maintenance, land and garden, materials handling, or similar activities);
  • All-purpose vehicles, (vehicles designed primarily for cross-country travel on land and water, or on multiple types of terrain, but excluding golf carts);
  • Compact tractors (garden tractors, small utility tractors, and riding mowers).

H.B. 364—Seed Labeling; Noxious Weeds. Sponsored by Representatives Dobos (R-Columbus), and Klopfenstein (R-Haviland), H.B. 364 had its first hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on February 6, 2024.  Specifically, the bill would allow the Ohio Prairie Association and other noncommercial entities sharing seeds to distribute milkweed seeds non-commercially to i members, with the intent of promoting habitats for pollinators like monarch butterflies.

The bill would legally define “non-commercial seed sharing” as the distribution or transfer of ownership of seeds with no compensation or remuneration. Also included in the definition are a list of situations that are not considered “non-commercial seed sharing,” including when:

  • The seeds are given as compensation of work or services rendered;
  • The seeds are collected outside of Ohio;
  • The seeds are patented, treated, or contain noxious weed species or invasive plants.

H.B. 364 also includes a definition of “seed library,” which it defines as a non-profit, governmental, or cooperative organization or association to which both of the following apply:

  • It is established for the purpose of facilitating the donation, exchange, preservation, and dissemination of seeds among the seed library’s members or the general public.
  • The use, exchange, transfer, or possession of seeds acquired by or from the non-profit governmental, or cooperative organization or association are obtained free of charge.

The bill would further exempt non-commercial seed sharers and seed libraries from labeling, advertising, handling, and sales restrictions under Ohio law.

To further the goal of promoting pollinators and habitats, H.B. 364 would make changes to the requirements for maintaining toll roads, railroads, or electric railways. Current law requires managers of such thoroughfares to destroy a number of noxious weeds along the roadway or in right of ways. The bill would no longer require the destruction of Russian thistle, Canadian thistle, common thistle, wild lettuce, wild mustard, wild parsnip, ragweed, milkweed, or ironweed. 

H.B. 447—Property Tax. Introduced on March 12, 2024 by Representative Loychik (R-Cortland), H.B. 447 was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee on April 2, 2024. The bill would modify and expand property tax homestead exemptions, gradually reduce school districts’ 20-mill floor for tax levies and modify the formula for determining farmland’s current agricultural use value (CAUV). The change to CAUV would involve the calculation of the overall capitalization rate for agricultural land.  Current law does not establish a minimum rate, but the bill would do so by stating that overall capitalization rate plus additur shall not be less than 10 percent.  Since a higher capitalization rate results in a lower CAUV value and because the current capitalization rate is around 8%, the change would likely lower CAUV values.

S.B. 156—Scenic Rivers. This bill, sponsored by Senators Reineke (R-Tiffin) and Hackett (R-London) passed the Ohio Senate on January 24, 2024, and was referred in the House to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on February 6, 2024. The bill would transfer the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Program from the Division of Parks and Watercraft to the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP) in ODNR. The bill would narrow the scope DNAP’s authority to watercourses designated as wild, scenic, and recreational rivers. Currently, the law is written so that the regulatory agency has authority over areas. “Areas” encompass not just the water, but also the land surrounding rivers. On the other hand, “watercourses” are defined as “substantially natural channel[s] that [are] at least five miles in length with recognized banks and a bottom in which the flow or water occurs.” Thus, agency oversight would be diminished from the river and its surrounding area to just confines of the river itself.

The bill also clarifies that a watercourse designation does not affect private property rights adjacent to a designated river.

Finally, the bill would require DNAP to adopt rules for the use, visitation, and protection of scenic river lands and provide for the establishment of facilities and improvements that are necessary for their visitation, use, restoration, and protection, but do not impair their natural character.

S.B. 226—Agricultural Land. S.B. 226 was introduced by Senator Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) in late February and referred to the Veterans & Public Safety Committee on February 27, 2024. The bill would create the Ohio Property Protection Act, which would include protection of:

  • Agricultural land, defined as “land suitable for use in agriculture,” including the water on the land, airspace above the land, and natural products and products from the land;
  • Any land located within a twenty-five-mile radius of any installation under the jurisdiction of the United States Armed Forces;
  • Any land located within a twenty-five radius of a critical infrastructure facility.

To protect property in the above categories, the bill would make it illegal for the following people and entities to acquire or purchase such property:

  • Those persons and foreign adversaries listed on a registry compiled by the Ohio Secretary of State;
  • A government of a foreign adversary;
  • An individual who is a citizen of a foreign adversary;
  • A business that is headquartered in a foreign adversary;
  • A business that is directly or indirectly owned or controlled by one or more of the above persons and entities; and
  • An agent, fiduciary, or trustee of the above persons and entities.
Farm field covered in snow with pine trees and sunset in background
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Monday, February 19th, 2024

Co-authored by Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist in Manure and Nutrient Management

This week’s snow was a reminder that we’re still in the middle of winter in Ohio, with more cold weather yet to come.  Winter weather is a challenge for those who handle manure, and it’s equally challenging to know the laws for applying manure on frozen and snow covered ground.  Those laws vary according to several important factors:  whether ground is frozen or snow covered, whether a farm is operating under a permit, and the geographical location of the land application.  Here’s a summary of the different winter application rules and standards in effect this winter.

What is frozen ground?  Ohio’s rules don’t define the term frozen ground, but generally, ground is considered frozen if you cannot inject manure into it or cannot conduct tillage within 24 hours to incorporate the manure into the soil.

Farms with Permits.  Farms with permits from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) or Ohio EPA operate under different rules than other manure applications in Ohio, and they cannot apply manure in the winter unless it is an extreme emergency.  Movement to other suitable storage is usually the selected alternative.  Several commercial manure applicators have established manure storage ponds in recent years to help address this issue. 

Applications in the Grand Lake St. Marys (GLSM) watershed.  There is a winter manure application ban from December 15 to March 1 for the GLSM watershed,  8ODA has the authority to allow an application, but that is not likely during the winter period.  After March 1, applications on frozen ground or ground covered in more than one inch of snow may occur only if the manure is injected or incorporated within 24 hours of surface application. The rule is in OAC 901:13-1-11

Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed Map

Applications in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) watershed.  In those parts of western Ohio that are in the WLEB watershed, below, the House Bill 1 restrictions established in 2016 are still in effect.  The law prohibits any manure application on frozen ground.  Applications are permissible on snow-covered soil if the manure is injected into the ground or incorporated within twenty-four hours of surface application.  The law is in ORC 939.08.

Western Lake Erie Basin

Other parts of Ohio.  It’s important to note that the NRCS Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard Code 590 (NRCS 590) now applies statewide in Ohio (but does not replace the GLSM and WLEB restrictions).  NRCS 590 was revised in 2020 and states that the surface application of manure on frozen and snow-covered soil is not acceptable unless it is an emergency.  An emergency is a temporary situation created by unforeseen causes and only after all other options have been exhausted. In this emergency situation only, limited quantities of liquid manure may be applied to address manure storage limitations only until non-frozen soils are available for manure application. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will enforce NRCS 590 in counties outside of GLSM and WLEB only if there is a manure discharge from the field. If a citation is issued for a discharge, liability for the discharge will be based on the 590 standards.

All applications of liquid manure to frozen and snow-covered soils must be documented in the producers’ records and must be applied in accordance with ALL of the following criteria:

  • The rate of application shall not exceed the lesser of 5,000 gallons/acre or P removal for the next crop.
  • Applications are to be made on land with at least 90% surface residue cover (cover crop, good quality hay or pasture field, all corn grain residue remaining after harvest, all wheat residue cover remaining after harvest).
  • Manure shall not be applied on more than 20 contiguous acres. Contiguous areas for application are to be separated by a break of at least 200 feet.
  • Applications should be in areas of the field with the lowest risk of nutrient transport such as areas furthest from streams, ditches, waterways, and with the least amount of slope.
  • Application setback distances must be a minimum of 200 feet from grassed waterways, surface drainage ditches, streams, surface inlets, water bodies and 300 feet from all wells, springs and public surface drinking water intakes. This distance may need to be increased due to local conditions.
  • For fields exceeding 6% slope, manure shall be applied in alternating strips 60 to 200 feet wide generally on the contour, or in the case of contour strips on the alternating strips.

Stockpiling.  For farmers with solid manure, stockpiling could be an option. There are two different types of stockpiles: short-term and long-term.

The short-term stockpile standards are in NRCS Field Office Technical Guide 318,  Short Term Storage of Animal Waste and Byproducts Standard (“NRCS 318”). Essentially, short- term stockpile is a pile of solid manure being kept temporarily in one or more locations. It is considered a temporary stockpile as long as the pile is kept at the location for no more than 180 days and stockpiled in the field where the manure will be applied. Setback distances listed in NRCS 318 should be followed to prevent discharge to waters of the state. There are multiple recommendations listed in NRCS 318 that speak to location, timing, and preventative measures to use while stockpiling the manure short term.

The long-term stockpile standards are in NRCS Field Office Technical Guide 313 Waste Storage Facility Standard (“NRCS 313”). A long-term stockpile is directly related to solid manure being piled and kept at a facility for longer than 180 days at a permanent location. It is recommended that all permanent long term storage stockpiles follow the guidelines in NRCS 313 with the utilization of a stacking facility and the structural designs of fabricated structures. A stacking facility can be open, covered or roofed, but specific parameters should be in place to prevent manure runoff from the site—these recommendations are in NRCS 313.

Check with your SWCD office.  Regardless of where you are in Ohio, it’s probably best to check with your county Soil and Water Conservation District office before considering winter manure application in Ohio. The rules have changed, and you should become aware of those that affect your operation in your area.

 

 

First page of U.S. EPA existing stocks order for dicamba products.
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Thursday, February 15th, 2024

A federal court decision last week vacated the registrations of dicamba products XtendiMax, Engenia, and Tavium for over-the-top applications on soybean and cotton crops, making the use of the products unlawful (see our February 12, 2024 blog post).  The decision raised immediate questions about whether the U.S. EPA would exercise its authority to allow producers and retailers to use "existing stocks" of dicamba products they had already purchased.  Yesterday, the U.S. EPA answered those questions by issuing an Existing Stocks Order that allows the sale and use of existing stocks of the products that were packaged, labeled, and released for shipment prior to the federal court decision on February 6, 2024 For Ohio, the EPA's order allows the sale and distribution of existing stocks until May 31, 2024 and the use of existing stocks until June 30, 2024.

Here is the EPA's order:

  1. Pursuant to FIFRA Section 6(a)(1), EPA hereby issues an existing stocks order for XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology (EPA Reg. No. 264-1210), Engenia® Herbicide (EPA Reg. No. 7969-472), and A21472 Plus VaporGrip® Technology (Tavium® Plus VaporGrip® Technology) (EPA Reg. No. 100-1623). This order will remain in effect unless or until subsequent action is taken. The issuance of this order did not follow a public hearing. This is a final agency action, judicially reviewable under FIFRA § 16(a) (7 U.S.C. §136n). Any sale, distribution, or use of existing stocks of these products inconsistent with this order is prohibited.
  2. Existing Stocks. For purposes of this order, “existing stocks” means those stocks of previously registered pesticide products that are currently in the United States and were packaged, labeled, and released for shipment prior to February 6, 2024 (the effective date of the District of Arizona’s vacatur of the dicamba registrations). Pursuant to FIFRA section 6(a)(1), this order includes the following existing stocks provisions:

a.  Sale or Distribution by the Registrants. As of February 6, 2024, sale or distribution by the registrants of these products is prohibited, except for the
purposes of proper disposal or to facilitate lawful export.
b.  Sale or Distribution by Persons other than the Registrants. Persons other than the registrants, including but not limited to co-ops and commercial distributors, who are already in possession of these products as of February 6, 2024, may sell or distribute these products until the end date for sale and distribution of existing stocks identified in Table 1; except that such persons may distribute these products after the date identified in Table 1 solely for purposes of proper disposal, lawful export, or to facilitate return to the manufacturer.
c.  Distribution or Sale by Commercial Applicators. Notwithstanding paragraph 2.b, for the purpose of facilitating use no later than the relevant end date for use of existing stocks identified in Table 1, distribution or sale of existing stocks of these dicamba products that are in the possession of commercial applicators is permitted
until the relevant end date for use in Table 1.
d.  Use of Existing Stocks. As of the date of this order, use of XtendiMax, Engenia, and Tavium is permitted until the relevant date identified in Table 1, provided that such use of existing stocks is consistent in all respects with the previously approved labeling accompanying the product.

What happens next? 

The Existing Stocks Order addresses dicamba over-the-top applications for the current growing season, but it's not the end of the dicamba controversy.  One potential next step could come from the petitioners in the federal case that vacated the dicamba product registrations, Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA.  The petitioners could file a motion asking the Court to review the Existing Stocks Order--an action that took place in the previous dicamba cancellation case, National Family Farm Coaltion v. EPA (Monsanto).  The petitioners in that case unsuccessfully sought an Emergency Motion to enforce the vacatur and hold the EPA Administrator in contempt for issuing an Existing Stocks Order.  A second next step that may yet play out is an appeal of the recent federal decision by the EPA, which has 30 days from the February 6 decision date to file an appeal.  At least one thing is clear at this point:  the long-term future of dicamba over-the-top products will continue to exist in a state of uncertainty.

Read the full text of the EPA's Existing Stocks Order.

Field of soybeans
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Monday, February 12th, 2024

A federal district court in Arizona has vacated the registrations for dicamba products XtendiMax, Engenia, and Tavium, finding that the U.S. EPA violated pesticide registration procedures when it approved the product registrations in 2020.  As a result of the decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA, the dicamba products are no longer legally authorized for use and application in the U.S.  Although there will likely be appeal of the decision, the new ruling creates uncertainty over the use of dicamba products for the upcoming crop season.

History of the case

If the court’s ruling feels familiar, that’s because it is a repeat of a 2020 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in National Family Farm Coalition v. EPA (Monsanto).  In that case, the court vacated the first “conditional” dicamba product registrations granted by the EPA in 2018.  The court found that the EPA had “substantially understated” and failed to acknowledge the risks of dicamba’s volatility and its effects on non-users.  The EPA then cancelled the product registrations in June of 2020, but allowed producers to use “existing stocks” of already purchased products to apply the products until July 31, 2020.  The Ohio Department of Agriculture shortened that timeline in Ohio due to growing conditions within the state, prohibiting applications of dicamba after June 30, 2020.

Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta immediately revised the label application instructions and restrictions for their dicamba products and resubmitted their registration requests to the EPA. In October of 2020, the EPA granted the applications and issued “unconditional” five-year registrations for over-the-top applications (OTT) of the products on cotton and soybean crops.  The EPA did not provide a notice and opportunity for the public to submit comments before it made the registration decision. The National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity filed the current lawsuit, claiming that the EPA violated federal law by granting the unconditional registrations without a notice and comment period.

The court’s reasoning in this case

EPA’s error.  The primary basis for the court’s decision is the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section 136a(c)(4), which contains the notice and comment requirement for registration of a “new use” of a pesticide or herbicide.  It states that the EPA:

“. . . shall publish in the Federal Register. . . a notice of each application for registration of any pesticide that contains any new active ingredient or if it would entail a changed use pattern. The notice shall provide for a period of 30 days in which any Federal agency or any other interested person may comment.”

FIFRA further states that a “new use” of a product means, in part, “any additional use pattern that would result in a significant increase in the level of exposure, or a change in the route of exposure, to the active ingredient of man or other organisms.”

The EPA took the position that it did not have to provide the FIFRA notice and a comment period because the 2020 registration requests were not applications for a “new use” since EPA had previously approved the products.  The court strongly disagreed, however, emphasizing the previous court decision that had vacated those registrations because the EPA had failed to fully consider the risks of the products.  The EPA’s conclusion that the 2020 registrations were not for a new use “is so implausible that the Court cannot ascribe it to be a mere difference in view,” the court stated.  Stakeholders who would be affected by the dicamba registrations should have had an opportunity to “meaningfully weigh in during the decision-making process before EPA concluded whether OTT dicamba has unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” said the court.

Remedy for the error.  The court explained that upon finding an agency has violated federal law, the presumed remedy a court must grant is to vacate the agency’s action.  The law requires that only in limited circumstances, when equity requires it, should a court remand without vacating an agency decision.  There are two factors the law requires a court to review in determining the remedy:  the seriousness of the agency’s error and the disruptive consequences of vacating the agency’s decision.  The court’s next step was to review those two factors and determine whether it should remand the issue with or without vacating the dicamba registrations.

Examining the first factor, the court concluded that the EPA’s error was “very serious” because it was likely that, had the agency considered field studies, data, and other information that would have been submitted during the comment period, the EPA’s registration decision likely would have differed from the decision it made to grant the five-year unconditional registration.  The history of the dicamba registrations were important to the court, and the judge noted that there had not been a notice and comment period for stakeholders who were opposed to approving dicamba products since 2016, when the EPA considered the original registration.  The court reiterated a long list of field studies, incident reports, and data generated since 2016 that the agency could have considered had it provided a comment period.  Noting that the EPA was “highly confident that control measures would eliminate dicamba offsite movement to only a minimal effect,” the court pointed to years of incident reports on dicamba offsite movement and concluded:

“This Court believes hearing from all stakeholders is likely to change the OTT dicamba registrations at least from unconditional to conditional, with data gathering requirements reinstated. Hearing from non-users of OTT dicamba may change the EPA’s circular approach to assessing costs for risks from OTT dicamba offsite movement. Instead of simply concluding there is no risk and, therefore, no costs to these stakeholders, EPA is likely to include the costs to these stakeholders when balancing the risks and benefits for OTT dicamba. Accordingly, the Court finds the EPA’s procedural error to unconditionally issue the “new use” 2020 dicamba registration, without notice and comment, was serious.”

The court then examined the second factor, the disruptive consequences of vacating the agency’s decision. The court recognized the benefits of dicamba products to the agricultural industry and that growers, through no fault of their own, would be in the difficult position of finding legal herbicides to protect their crops if the dicamba registrations were vacated.  Nevertheless, the court agreed with the reasoning in the previous dicamba case, National Family Farm Coalition v. EPA (Monsanto), that the seriousness of the EPA’s failure to assess the risks and costs for non-users of dicamba warranted vacating the registration despite the disruptive consequences.

What happens next?

There are two issues to watch now in the wake of the court’s decision. First is whether the EPA will appeal the federal district court’s decision.  The appeal would go the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the same appellate court that reviewed the decision in the first dicamba appeal, National Family Farm Coalition v. EPA (Monsanto).  If the EPA also requests a stay, the appeal would put the federal district court’s decision on hold.

If there is not an appeal, the second issue to watch for is how the EPA and state agencies will direct the use of existing stocks of dicamba products.  The EPA could use its authority to allow continued use of existing stocks of dicamba products until a certain date, as it did in the previous case.  If the EPA does issue an existing stocks order, states could also address the extent of existing stocks use within their borders, as Ohio did in the previous case.

Follow the Ohio Ag Law Blog for continued legal information about Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA and review the federal district court’s opinion through this link.  Ohio growers should also refer to information from OSU’s Weed Science Extension Specialist, Dr. Allyssa Essman, available through OSU’s C.O.R.N. newsletter.

 

Ohio capitol lit with red and green lights and a lampost wrapped in garland
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Thursday, December 21st, 2023

Written by Ellen Essman, J.D., OSU CFAES Government Relations

Just like there won’t be snow flurries on Christmas this year, there was not a flurry of activity at the Statehouse over the last few months. That being said, we will be carefully following several ag-related bills that progressed in committees but have not yet been passed by the full body, as the calendar turns to 2024. Here’s a summary of the bills we’re watching. 

H.B. 162—Agriculture Designations. H.B. 162 was introduced by Representatives Roy Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) and Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) on May 5, 2023, and was passed by the House in October, and had its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on December 5. The bill would designate the following days and weeks to honor Ohio Agriculture:

  • March 21 of each year as “Agriculture day;”
  • The week beginning on the Saturday before the last Saturday of each February through the last Saturday in February as “FFA Week;”
  • October 12 of each year as “Farmer’s Day;” and
  • The week ending with the second Saturday of March as “4-H Week.”

H.B. 347—Farming Equipment Taxes. This bill was introduced by Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in early December.  The bill would change the way farmers claim a tax exemption on certain purchases. 

Currently, when an Ohioan engaged in farming, agriculture, horticulture, or floriculture is buying a product for “agricultural use,” they must provide the seller with an exemption certificate. This certificate comes from the Ohio Department of Taxation and relieves the seller of the obligation to collect the sales tax on behalf of the state.  However, the Department of Taxation can later determine that the purchase does not qualify for exemption, and then the farmer would be expected to pay the tax. 

H.B. 347 would slightly alter this current way of doing things when it comes to the purchase of certain vehicles and trailers.  Under the bill, the purchaser could receive an agricultural use exemption for taxes on these vehicles if the purchaser shows the seller copies of the purchaser’s Schedule F—the federal income tax profit of loss from farming form—for three most recent preceding years. Alternatively, a farmer could obtain a certificate from the Department of Taxation verifying that they have filed a Schedule F for three years in lieu of providing the forms directly to the seller.  Notably, the bill states that “no other documentation or explanation shall be required by the vendor or the tax commissioner” to prove that the purchase qualifies for the agricultural use exemption.

The following vehicles and trailers would be included under the bill:

  • Trailers, excluding watercraft trailers;
  • Utility vehicles, (vehicles with a bed, principally for the purpose of transporting material or cargo in connection with construction, agricultural, forestry, grounds maintenance, land and garden, materials handling, or similar activities);
  • All-purpose vehicles, (vehicles designed primarily for cross-country travel on land and water, or on multiple types of terrain, but excluding golf carts);
  • Compact tractors (garden tractors, small utility tractors, and riding mowers).

H.B. 364—Agriculture (seed sharing). House Bill 364 was introduced in the House by representatives Dave Dobos (R-Columbus) and Roy Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) on December 14.  The bill would allow the Ohio Prairie Association to distribute milkweed seeds non-commercially to its members, with the intent of promoting habitats for pollinators like monarch butterflies.

The bill would legally define “non-commercial seed sharing” as the distribution or transfer of ownership of seeds with no compensation or remuneration.  Also included in the definition are a list of situations that are not considered “non-commercial seed sharing,” including when:

  • The seeds are given as compensation of work or services rendered;
  • The seeds are collected outside of Ohio;
  • The seeds are patented, treated, or contain noxious weed species or invasive plants.

H.B. 364 also includes a definition of “seed library,” which it defines as a non-profit, governmental, or cooperative organization or association to which both of the following apply:

  • It is established for the purpose of facilitating the donation, exchange, preservation, and dissemination of seeds among the seed library’s members or the general public.
  • The use, exchange, transfer, or possession of seeds acquired by or from the non-profit governmental, or cooperative organization or association are obtained free of charge.

The bill would further exempt non-commercial seed sharing for the purposes of pollinator conservation, creating and conserving native habitats, and operation of a seed library from labeling, advertising, handling, and sales restrictions under Ohio law.

To further the goal of promoting pollinators and habitats, H.B. 364 would make changes to the requirements for maintaining toll roads, railroads, or electric railways. Current law requires managers of such thoroughfares to destroy a number of noxious weeds along the roadway or in right of ways. The bill would no longer require the destruction of Russian thistle, Canadian thistle, common thistle, wild lettuce, wild mustard, wild parsnip, ragweed, milkweed, or ironweed. 

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