The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has $19 million available for eligible California 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.
“These efforts benefit public health and welfare,” said Ted Strauss, Air Quality Conservationist for NRCS in California, in a recent release.
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.
- Utilize 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 (New in 2016).
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.
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 over 90 percent. Operating Tier 4-certified diesel engines provide farmers the assurance that they meet current air quality emission standards and the peace of mind that they are doing their part to help improve air quality.
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.
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.