TOLEDO — Farms in Northwest Ohio will be the first in the state to gain certification as environmentally sustainable, a project funded by the governor’s H2Ohio program.

Mike Libben will explain plans to spend $30.3 million in 2020 at 7 p.m. Thursday in a talk at Packo’s at the Park in downtown Toledo.

Libben, district program administrator for Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District, will speak and answer questions at the monthly meeting of Lake Erie Waterkeeper, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. and resume after his talk.

Libben, who also farms 500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat, will explain Ohio’s new certification process that is modeled after Michigan’s program that has voluntarily enrolled 5,400 farms of all sizes and commodities. It aims to teach farmers how to prevent or minimize pollution risks.

Will it reduce phosphorous in manure or fertilizer from seeping off the land and into water, spurring harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie?

“If we get a majority of farmers involved it’ll make a difference,” he said. “It’s the first money the state has provided for best management practices,” and the funds are likely to go farther than federal funding typically does.

Ohio’s Department of Agriculture will initially focus on the 14 northwest Ohio counties in the Maumee River watershed that feed Lake Erie and its tributaries.

People attending the meeting may order food. Packo’s at the Park is at 7 S. Superior St. For more information visit lakeeriewaterkeeper.org.

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