California budget constraints are coming at a time when farmers are working to meet ambitious climate goals. President and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA), Roger Isom said several programs vital to farmers have been substantially cut or zeroed out entirely in the governor’s budget. One program of particular importance is the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) program.
“That’s the program by which we replace tractors and harvesters throughout the state but certainly and more importantly here in the San Joaquin Valley where we have a SIP, State Implementation Plan, obligation to get a certain amount of reductions,” Isom explained. “To see zero dollars in the budget is devastating because we know they’re not going to move back the deadline which is at the end of this year.”
The FARMER program has been immensely successful since its inception. There is consistently a backlog of applicants seeking funding support through the program. FARMER matches funding so that growers can purchase a new tractor, crushing the old one, and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Isom noted that the program has been instrumental in working to meet State Implementation Plan parameters.
“If we don’t get the 11 tons of emission reductions we were supposed to by the end of the year, then the Air Resources Board is forced to adopt, next year, a mandatory tractor replacement rule,” said Isom. “Your small and medium farmers are going to be devastated because they would have until 2030 to replace every Tier 0, Tier 1, and Tier 2 tractor in the state. So basically, you’re looking at anything older than 2007 would have to be gone in the next five years if that rule goes through.”
Having no funding allocated due to budget constraints could complicate the matter further. Isom explains that once a rule is established, incentives are no longer available. WAPA has been working in Sacramento highlighting the dire nature of supporting incentive programs such as FARMER. “It’s absolutely necessary that we get this program funded again,” said Isom.