Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed HB 276 into law. The legislation amends state law to include algaculture, meaning the farming of algae, in the law governing agriculture, including those addressing county and township zoning, and current agriculture use valuation. Specifically, the legislation revises the definitions of “agriculture,” “agricultural purposes,” “agricultural production,” and “land devoted exclusively to agricultural use” found in state agricultural statutes and some other state statutes to include algaculture.
“We applaud the commitment of Ohio’s leadership for their vision and support of the emerging algae industry for both business and agriculture,” said Ross Youngs, CEO and founder of Ohio-based Algaeventure Systems. “HB 276 provides the right regulatory framework to properly cultivate the growing algal industry, attract investment dollars into the state of Ohio, and provide regulatory clarity. Defining Algaculture as agriculture in the Ohio Revised Code places Ohio in a leadership position while making a powerful statement that Ohio is open for business and welcomes investment in this emerging industry.”
According to a legislative summary published by the state, the act also revises the definition of “land devoted exclusively to agricultural use” for purposes of the statutes that govern current agricultural use validation of real property for real property tax assessment. The new definition includes land devoted exclusively to biodiesel production, biomass energy production, electric or heat energy production, and some biologically derived methane. In addition, the legislation states that country and township zoning laws do not grant authority to prohibit the use of land for these types of biorefining operations.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Buchy and former Rep., now Sen. Lou Gentile. The legislation received strong bipartisan support, and was passed unanimously in both the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate.
A full copy of the legislation can be viewed on the Ohio General Assembly website.