$19 million available to California farmers to improve air quality

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has $19 million available for eligible farmers to implement conservation practices that benefit air quality, which help to reduce on-farm emissions. 

Through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to eligible agricultural producers for addressing their natural resource concerns, including the air quality concerns from their farming operations, according to a release.

"These efforts benefit public health and welfare," said Ted Strauss, air quality conservationist for NRCS in California.

EQIP payments are available to:

  • Replace old diesel-powered farm equipment with similar new equipment powered with the cleanest Tier emissions-certified diesel engines;
  • Repower irrigation engines with new electric motors or new Tier 4 emissions-certified diesel engines;
  • Adopt no-till or reduced-till conservation tillage practices;
  • Use combined-tillage implements that perform multiple tasks in a single pass;
  • Stabilize unpaved roads and traffic areas to limit dust;
  • Establish windbreaks and shelterbelts at Confined Animal Feeding Operations;
  • Chip debris from orchard or vineyard removals;
  • Apply the safe handling and disposal of chemically-treated wooden stakes;
  • Use "low-dust" nut harvesters instead of the conventional harvesters.

All of the listed air quality practices are available statewide, except for replacing diesel-powered farm equipment, which is only available in California's air quality non-attainment areas as established by the U.S. EPA. These non-attainment areas include Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba counties.

Uncontrolled diesel engines, also referred to as "Tier 0," release the greatest amounts of diesel exhaust emissions.

The emissions control levels range from Tier 1, the first applied emission standards, to Tier 4 by decreasing diesel exhaust emissions more than 90 percent. Operating Tier 4-certified diesel engines provide farmers the assurance that they meet current air quality emission standards.

Since 2009, NRCS has helped California's farmers replace more than 3,000 old, polluting farm equipment. The emissions reductions from these replacements is the equivalent of having removed approximately one million cars from California's roads, according to the USDA. Through collaborative efforts with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the voluntary emission reductions achieved are helping meet local goals and objectives that are improving air quality.

NRCS accepts EQIP applications year-round and establishes cut-off dates for making funding selections. May 26, 2017, is the next cut-off date when funding decisions will be made for all eligible and ranked applications.

For more information, visit  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/ca/programs/financial/eqip/.

Topics: Agricultural and Farm Buildings, Associations / Organizations, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Sustainable Communities, Technology

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