After six months of negotiation, the California Air Resources Board approved a spending plan for agricultural equipment at a recent hearing in Riverside. The $135 million in funding will relieve some of the cost burdens for farmers working to comply with air quality regulations.
“This money would pay up to 50 percent of the cost of ag equipment, be it tractors or harvesters or UTV’s, irrigation pump engines and trucks,” said Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) President and CEO Roger Isom. “That’s a significant chunk of change and this money will go towards helping pay for that.”
The money will be coming from revenue raised as part of the Cap and Trade legislation and will be set up as a two-year program. “We hope to demonstrate that the program can work and that there’s a need for it and maybe even continue it beyond that, as long as there’s a Cap and Trade program,” said Isom.
The Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program, along with programs offered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have been able to provide some level of funding toward the replacement of agricultural equipment. “We’re getting roughly, somewhere between $20 and $30 million dollars average for ag equipment, and we needed a significant influx of money,” Isom said.
WAPA spent a significant amount of time advocating for the spending plan from the standpoint that without adequate incentive programs it would be impossible for many farmers to stay in business as they attempt to meet the mandatory air quality standards. “The San Joaquin Valley is staring down the barrel of a mandatory replacement regulation sometime later this year and we knew we needed to get some incentive funding in here at a much higher rate than we’re currently getting,” said Isom.