What are LEAP and OFAER?

Mr. Dave White, Executive Director, Ohio Livestock Coalition

Livestock Environmental Assurance Program

To help Ohio's livestock and poultry producers identify and address key management issues affecting environmental quality, the Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) developed the Livestock Environmental Assurance Program (LEAP), which provides producers with the opportunity to take a proactive approach in blending sound production economics with concern about environmental quality. The LEAP is coordinated by the OLC in cooperation with the Ohio State University (OSU) Extension, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Soil & Water Conservation, United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and various commodity and farm organizations.

The LEAP is a voluntary and confidential environmental assurance program for all major livestock species in Ohio - sheep, beef and dairy cattle, swine, and poultry - and some areas may also be applicable for equine. It will help livestock and poultry producers profitably manage environmental challenges that are critically important to the success of the business and effectively assess how farmstead practices affect water quality. That kind of knowledge gives producers the power to operate and grow their livestock operation with environmental assurance, confidence, and security.

LEAP Level 1 is designed primarily for confined animal feeding operations.
LEAP Pasture is designed primarily for pasture or grazing-based livestock systems, including, but not limited to, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, and equine.

In both LEAP Level 1 and Pasture:

GENERAL CONCEPTS provide a primer for environmental assurance fundamentals.

APPLICATIONS focus on specific topics for individual commodity producers.

IMPLEMENTATION provides resources, contacts, and references specific to Ohio that will assist you in applying the action plan you develop at the completion level.

LEAP Level 2 is designed to help livestock, dairy, and poultry producers gather the information and identify best management practices (BMP) necessary to develop a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP).

Funds are available to help livestock, dairy, and poultry farmers who participate in LEAP 2 obtain soil fertility tests and manure nutrient analyses, which are two very important and necessary pieces of information for initiating a CNMP.

Participation in a local LEAP Level 1 or 2 training session is required of farmers who wish to become eligible recipients for agricultural pollution abatement grants available through the local SWCD. Producers who are considering applying for Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) grants through the USDA/NRCS should also participate in a LEAP training session to earn points towards qualifying for the grant.


On-Farm Assessment & Environmental Review Program

Had a check-up lately? While an annual physical check-up is a good idea for everybody, an On-Farm Assessment and Environmental Review (OFAER) is also prudent for Ohio's livestock and poultry farms.

The goals of this pro-active program are to promote environmental stewardship, minimize livestock impact on watersheds, improve the public's perception of livestock production and move agriculture, particularly animal production agriculture, toward self-regulation.

All sizes of farms are eligible to participate in the OFAER program, and it is open to beef, dairy, poultry, turkey, and pork operations. Data from the program indicates that environmental challenges are similar in type no matter what the size of the operation is and that well-managed operations of any size can be environmentally successful. When risk areas are identified, producers find that by addressing such areas, several valuable benefits occur - a reduction in potential liability exposure, an enhancement in community acceptance, and a savings in operating costs and expenses.

An on-farm assessment and review is the logical next step for producers who have already conducted a self-analysis and evaluation of their operation by participating in LEAP and want to make sure they have not overlooked any problems.

Unlike a visit to the physician's office, the OFAER program is of no cost to the producer. When risk areas are identified on farms, most of these risks can be addressed by developing and implementing BMP. Cost-share funding for implementing BMP and structural changes may be available from the USDA/NRCS or the local SWCD office.

To initiate an on-farm assessment, please contact the OLC at dwhite@ofbf.org or (614) 246-8288.