USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering farming incentives through the provision of technical and financial assistance to make improvements in agricultural operations that help address air quality. The assistance is being made available through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, National Air Quality Initiative.
“What the initiative does is that it financially assists farmers and ranchers to replace on-farm, mobile engines that are high polluters,” said NRCS Program Specialist Erik Beardsley. “There’s air quality standards and counties that are not meeting those air quality standards. The farmers in those counties are eligible to apply for this incentive to replace their diesel engine and different pieces of farming equipment.”
The initiative is designed to help producers meet air quality compliance requirements and provide opportunities to support practices that reduce nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter emissions that are related to agriculture. Beardsley noted that financial assistance can generally range between 50 and 60 percent of the cost of equipment replacement. “It’s not any one specific percentage, it just falls within a range and it’s based on the reductions of those emissions and the horsepower of equipment and the hours they’re operated,” Beardsley explained.
The farming incentives are being made available for producers who operate in counties that have been given “nonattainment” designations. NRCS has a list of counties that may be eligible for the program on its website. These are the areas that experience pollution levels that often exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for California, established by the Clean Air Act. The deadline for the first application period is March 18.
“All the applications that are eligible and are in the system will get ranked after that date and we’ll select the highest score on down until we exhaust the funding that’s available for that batching period,” Beardsley noted. “There’s slated batching periods in case we have additional funds…April 17 is another ranking deadline and the final ranking deadline of June 26.”
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