Ohio Dept. of Ag needs to do its job, regulating dairy farms


To the Editor:

Every summer, newspaper headlines and news reports warn about the toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Another recent news article asked ”who pays for up to $10 million in damages to Wood County roads” caused by heavy factory farm manure and silage haulers? Every commenter at a recent Ohio EPA meeting asked what they would do about the widespread pollution in the Maumee River caused by manure runoff from millions of animals confined in factory farms in the western basin.

Before this meeting, someone asked me what I thought the real problem is – he wondered if there are just a few bad factory farm actors responsible for the nutrient pollution discharging into the Maumee River? After 19 years of studying this issue, I told him the real problem is the Ohio Department of Agriculture – their deceptive permits and their lax oversight.

For example, the dairy factory farm east of Portage just got a permit to expand to 5,000 cows. The ODA approved this permit even though dairies have dumped millions of gallons of milk during the past seven years due to a huge decline in demand. The ODA always claims they have to approve more permits if they comply with their program, but the problem is the ODA writes their own rules.

Numerous expansion permits for this dairy over the past 19 years show the phosphorus estimated for 5,000 cows is actually less than the phosphorus in the original permit for 2,200 cows. Even worse, the Appendix in the ODA’s program shows the actual amount of phosphorus is much higher and would result in over 3 million pounds of phosphorus being unreported and unregulated during the five-year duration of this new permit.

Ohio’s response to reduce nutrients in Lake Erie is the highly touted H2Ohio plan which, in part, pays $60 (taxpayer money) per acre to landowners who allow manure from privately-owned factory farms to be spread on their fields. Dr. Jeff Reutter, the preeminent expert on Lake Erie, has stated that this is just “waste disposal.”

What could be more life sustaining than water and our water is in jeopardy. We don’t need milk to live but, when you jeopardize our water, you jeopardize our lives. Please contact your legislators and demand they institute a moratorium on more new and expanded factory farm permits.

Vickie Askins


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