This growing season (like many before) has seen months of challenging conditions including excessive rain followed by days on end of high heat and drought. In facing these challenges, Ohio farmers know that improving soil health is a critical component to mitigating the impacts of these extreme weather events, as well as offering a myriad of other environmental benefits.
But our farmers can’t do this alone. It’s essential that there is legislative investment in supporting and incentivizing the use of good soil management practices to create lasting environmental and economic resiliency. This commitment to soil health needs to be more than just seed deep. When we prioritize soil health, we’re supporting improved surface and ground water quality, increased crop productivity and profitability, better water holding capacity and reduced erosion, and so much more. Going deeper, this commitment means investing in the future of our farms, in a more sustainable food system, and resilient communities.
Coordinated planning and leadership that’s informed by our farmers is needed to make good soil health practices a real priority in the state of Ohio. That’s why just this May, with support from OEFFA and the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI), Representative Juanita Brent (D-12), introduced Ohio House Bill 669 which aims to create a Healthy Soils Task Force.
Getting to Know HB 669
HB 669 calls for creating a Healthy Soils Task Force consisting of a diverse group of farmers, agriculture and soil health experts from Ohio academic institutions, conservation and environmental organization representatives, and appointees from the Ohio House and Senate. With administrative and fiscal support from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) the group will:
- Develop a healthy soils initiative for the state of Ohio
- Create a comprehensive action plan to implement an Ohio soil initiative with set goals, timelines and resource requirements and availabilities
- Examine, identify, and review:
- Financial incentives to improve soil health;
- The benefits of livestock to soil health;
- Goals and timelines for improving soil health in the state via partnerships between producers and regional agencies and other invested organizations;
- Identification of federal resources that can be leveraged in the state of Ohio to further soil health practice.
- Consult additional experts and agencies
- By the end of 2022 (at which time the Task Force will be terminated), submit the action plan, report findings and suggestions to the Governor and the State House and Senate agricultural committees
Next Steps to Prioritizing Healthy Soils in Ohio
This bill is the first step towards prioritizing soil health in Ohio and there is still time to contact your legislator and ask them to support the Healthy Soils Task Force!
If you would like to be more involved, contact email@example.com or (614) 725-0903 to learn about how you can help support healthy soils in Ohio.