COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) rolled out his “H2Ohio” plan to tackle the state’s water problem, the focus has been on farmers.

“Farmers were a part of putting this program together, dealing with the algae bloom in Lake Erie. They have to be part of the solution,” said DeWine.

  • The governor hosted a fireside chat with farmers from around the state
  • He said their metric of success is acres
  • He said the full scope of this agricultural overhaul won’t be seen for years to come, which could be problematic when it comes to funding

Agriculture is Ohio’s top industry — and also one of its top polluters.

That’s why Wednesday, the governor, along with the director of agriculture, held a fireside chat, to bring farmers into the fold.

“We are overwhelmed, we are excited, and I truly believe that farmers are the true environmentalists and we will prove to the community, and to all of you, that voluntary conservation is really going to work,” said Dorothy Pelanda, director, Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The governor’s office freed up $30 million back in January to incentivize farmers to cut down on their phosphorus run-off.

But sustaining water-friendly farms takes a multiple-pronged approach.

“Things like over-wintering cover crops, once your corn or your wheat comes off, to plant an over wintering cover crop to keep those nutrients and that water in the ground,” said Pelanda.

DeWine says their metric of success is acres. While the efforts are in their nascent stages, the governor says the full scope of this agricultural overhaul won’t be seen for years to come — which could prove problematic when asking the legislature for continued funding.

“We’re going to be coming back to the legislature again and ask them to sustain this program, and to keep it going,” DeWine said.

DeWine hopes it will continue to be a bipartisan priority.