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State Considers "Certifying" Farmers To Cut Algae Blooms

Blooms of toxic algae are expected again this summer in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Mary's and many of Ohio's smaller lakes. The algae has been a problem in the state for more than a decade. Now lawmakers in Columbus are looking at “certifyingâ€? farmers as one way to deal with it. The state requires farmers to be certified to use pesticides and herbicides. They have to complete a training program on the use of chemicals and be up to date on regulations. Now, because research is showing fertilizer runoff from farms is a factor in algae growth in lakes,the Ohio Senate is considering a bill that would expand certification requirements to include fertilizer. Farmer-Senator Bob Peterson is a Republican senator from Fayette County south of Columbus. “From a farmer’s perspective—and I do farm, with my father and my brother—one of the most expensive bills I pay every year is my fertilizer bill. The last thing I want is for it to not be there when the plants need it. So we in agriculture are as committed to making sure the fertilizer stays, in addition to the environmental benefit, for the economic benefit.â€? Public debate Peterson says he expects public discussion and maybe revisions of the bill to continue through the summer.Harmful algae He and the bill’s cosponsor, Cifford Hite of Findlay, both stressed that fertilizer runoff is only one possible cause of the algae problem and others, like industrial effluent are under study too.