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By: Caty Daniels, Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program will host the Sixth Annual Ohio Agricultural Law Conference on Friday May 16, 2014 at the Ohio 4-H Center. This year’s program features OSU’s Dr. Carl Zulauf discussing the new Farm Bill. Also on the schedule is a legislative update from Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Tony Seegers. Craig Vandervoort of Sitterly & Vandervoort Ltd. will present on Medicaid and nursing home planning for family farms.  Robert Moore of Wright & Moore Law Co. will moderate a session featuring an OSU Extension Educator and an insurance agent on agri-tourism and direct marketing trends and liability. A roundtable discussion on guiding clients in today’s agricultural climate, moderated by Troy Callicoat of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham and Eselgroth LLP, will wrap up the day.  

A special highlight of this year’s conference is a bus tour of OSU’s Waterman Farm.  The bus will then take conference attendees to the North Market in downtown Columbus for lunch and a discussion with North Market Farmers on legal issues and challenges they face. Law students interested in attending the conference may apply for student scholarships provided by the Paul L. Wright Agricultural Law Endowment Fund. Contact Caty Daniels at daniels.498@osu.edu for scholarship information. For more information and to register for the conference, visit www.regonline.com/OhioAgLaw.

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By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Ohio Legislature is one step closer to creating a unique fertilizer applicator certification program for Ohio agriculture.  The Ohio House of Representatives recently approved the measure in S.B. 150, which had already passed the Senate in January (see our related post.)   The legislation aims to reduce fertilizer runoff into Ohio's waters in response to recent problems with algae blooms in Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Mary's.   Other states with fertilizer applicator certification programs focus on professional, turf or urban applications of fertilizer, but Ohio's program would require farmers applying fertilizers on their own land to complete the knowledge-based certification program. 

An amendment by the House extends the certification requirement to anyone applying fertilizer for agricultural production on more than 50 acres of land, rather than on more than 50 "contiguous" acres as approved by the Senate.  The amendment will likely expand the program to more smaller-acreage farmers.    Although urged to do so, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate agreed to extend the proposal even further by including "manure" in the definition of "fertilizer."

The Senate must now approve the House-amended version when it reconvenes in early May.  Upon Senate approval, the legislation would move to the Governor by mid-May.  If enacted, the bill gives the Ohio Department of Agriculture three years to establish and implement the fertilizer applicator certification program.  The bill also contains provisions for voluntary nutrient mangement plans, operation and management plans for animal feeding operations, and a few changes to Ohio's fertilizer license laws.

Watch for our final analysis of S.B. 150 as it continues the legislative process next month.