The Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions program, known simply as the FARMER program is set to receive significant state support. The $227 billion budget recently proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom held several provisions important to farmers and ranchers. Due to complications related to COVID-19, there was an expectation that funding would be down for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. However, the proposal is the most expensive budget in state history, catching many off-guard. Funding for the FARMER program will go a long way towards achieving air quality goals.
“We’re very excited and glad to see that the Governor has recognized the importance of that program and the success of that program,” said Roger Isom, President and CEO of Western Agricultural Processors Association. “Early rumors had us at about $50 million a year for two years and what came back within this proposed budget was $170 million over two years. So that’s a substantial chunk of change. It’s going to help replace a lot of tractors and harvesters.”
The FARMER program has been instrumental in helping producers replace older equipment. Industry members have been making significant headway in achieving emissions reductions through the program. The increased funding will create even more of an opportunity for the industry to upgrade equipment. “It may even get us to the attainment goal that we were shooting for in the San Joaquin Valley of 11 tons of reductions of oxides of nitrogen or NOX,” Isom noted.
The $170 million in funding would be broken down as $90 million in 2020-21 and $80 million in 2021-22. Funding for the program has been relatively volatile since it was first developed. The program began with $135 million in funding before being cut by nearly 50 percent. If the funding amount remains at the proposed level and is approved, it will make the FARMER program even more effective. “If it’s successful, then nobody has to go out there and mandatorily replace their tractor if they can’t afford it like we had to do with the truck rule. It’s a great way to go,” Isom explained.