It’s that time of year again. We’re not talking about planting, spraying, school letting out, or gearing up for county fairs. It’s State Budget time.
While there are several aspects of the state budget that we care about as an organization, two rise to the top of our growers’ priority list.
Expansion of the H2Ohio program with a fully funded Ohio Department of Agriculture is crucial. As of right now, only a select few Ohio counties in the western Lake Erie basin can benefit from the program. We are joining agriculture groups across Ohio in advocating for H2Ohio to expand into 50 more counties. That’s a massive amount of growers who could then take advantage of the program.
H2Ohio is a pay-for-practice, voluntary program that incentivizes growers to adopt best management practices (BMPs) proven to improve water quality. When certain BMPs are used growers receive a payment based on the method and amount of acres, with verification. The information collected from the growers allows the state to model and predict the improved on-field nutrient retention levels. By showing prevention of nutrient runoff we are able to better fight back against those who want to over-regulate your business.
Ohio Corn & Wheat is a strong supporter of H2Ohio and has been since its conception. It is a program that protects your social license to farm and run your business as you wish without burdensome interference while also easing the financial burden of adopting new practices.
But that’s not our only priority in the state budget. We are laser-focused on the adoption of an Ethanol Retailer Tax Credit to promote the sale of higher blends of ethanol state-wide.
If a retailer opts to offer E15 (aka Unleaded 88) at their pumps, the state would give a $0.05 tax credit to that retailer for every gallon sold. But it’s important to note that this is a proposal for a non-refundable credit. While it will allow retailers to reduce their tax burden, this would prevent any direct payments to retailers – which makes this a responsible budget proposal.
This is amendment is narrow in scope and time limited, expiring after four years. Its purpose is to make the adoption of the needed infrastructure a more enticing business decision. It is designed to make retailers want to invest in higher blends of ethanol and bring real competition to the liquid fuels market, bringing the cost down at the pump for consumers. This program has a $10 million programmatic cap for implementation.
While these two proposals are at the top of our mind, we are also working with the broader agriculture coalition on other topics, like commonsense approaches to tax policy and regulation.
The state budget is a piece of legislation and moves through the process like any other bill. In this case, the governor proposes a budget, then the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate create, debate and craft their own versions. Eventually, through amendments and committee hearings, a final version is proposed and passed in both chambers of the General Assembly and adopted by the governor.
To hear us explain the process more deeply, listen to Ep 017: Inside the State Budget on Kernels with Ohio Corn & Wheat on your favorite podcast platform! Find it here: https://pod.link/1667405910