This past week Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed 2020-2021 Budget for the State of California. While we are encouraged by the Governor’s proposed investment in rural communities through food and education programs, the Governor’s budget proposal falls woefully short in delivering necessary funds to the San Joaquin Valley for programs to improve air quality. Specifically, the budget proposal calls for only $50 million in FARMER incentive funding to replace old farm equipment such as tractors and harvesters with new low emission equipment.
The use of the FARMER Program incentives has proven to be hugely successful with the replacement of farm equipment having already achieve significant reductions of NOx emissions in the first three years of implementation.
FARMER received $75 million in 2019-20 and $130 million in 2018-19. Last month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) called for a minimum of $193 million per year in FARMER funding as the only way to achieve attainment of the State’s air quality standards. The proposed $50 million in the 2020 budget is inadequate to reach the State’s emissions reduction goals and assures that the San Joaquin Valley, which faces some of the worst air quality in the Nation, will not achieve the standard.
The FARMER program is an example of industry and government working together to provide solutions for a significant challenge facing our rural communities and is worthy of continued investment.
With rising farm equipment prices, increasing fuel prices, and ever growing labor costs coupled with stagnant commodity prices, a mandatory farm equipment regulation will be overwhelming to the agricultural industry in the San Joaquin Valley.
For the health of the San Joaquin Valley and all who live and work here, we call on our Central Valley legislators to see that funding for the FARMER program is fully restored and increased to the necessary level.