California to Help Farmers Buy Cleaner Heavy Equipment

"Although tough new engine standards are in effect now and will eventually lower emissions, most agricultural equipment lasts for decades. We cannot wait for the older dirtier equipment to phase out naturally, so we are taking action to improve air quality sooner by helping farmers to buy cleaner farm equipment now," CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said.

The California Air Resources Board announced April 24 that it will soon award $135 million through the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program to help farmers buy cleaner agricultural equipment. This will reduce their exposure to harmful diesel exhaust, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the agency.

The money will help some farmers acquire cleaner heavy-duty trucks, harvesting equipment, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other equipment used in agricultural operations. The funds will be available this summer and administered through California's regional air districts. The San Joaquin Valley has the vast majority of California's agricultural operations and experiences the greatest negative health impacts from agricultural emissions, so 80 percent of the money — $108 million — will be distributed by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to farmers in that region.

"Emissions from agricultural equipment are a significant source of air pollution, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Reducing that pollution is necessary to protect public health and meet air quality standards," CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said. "Although tough new engine standards are in effect now and will eventually lower emissions, most agricultural equipment lasts for decades. We cannot wait for the older dirtier equipment to phase out naturally, so we are taking action to improve air quality sooner by helping farmers to buy cleaner farm equipment now. This will help improve air quality throughout the state, but particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, which suffers from unacceptably high levels of fine particle pollution."

FARMER funding allocations come from proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade program ($85 million), the Air Quality Improvement Fund ($15 million), and the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund ($35 million). The California Legislature directed that money from those three sources reduce emissions from the agricultural sector through grants, rebates, and other financial incentives; the legislators placed special emphasis on purchasing vehicles and equipment that use advanced technologies, such as clean diesel or electricity, to speed up air quality improvements.

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