Association Pushes Back on Plan to Replace 12,000 Tractors in Five Years

This week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a nighttime “community meeting” in Fresno to discuss the PM2.5 State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the San Joaquin Valley.  And what attendees heard was a repeat of an earlier meeting by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and not good news for agricultural interests.  At the Air District level, attendees learned that Tier 3 irrigation pump engines will now have to be replaced with Tier 4 engines or electric motors.  In addition, the Air District is going to tighten the Conservation Management Practices regulations to control fugitive dust from farms, specifically tightening restrictions on land preparation and how lands are fallowed.  On the State side, CARB confirmed the information released recently stating they will be regulating tractors and harvesters for the first time.  CARB is looking at replacing 12,000 tractors by the end of 2024!  While they will focus on the use of incentives first, it was made abundantly clear there will be a “drop dead date” by which older tractors and harvesters will have to be replaced.  The SIP relies upon at least $55 million per year in funding coming from Cap and Trade monies through 2024.  Speaking on the Industry Panel at the special meeting Association President/CEO Roger Isom said that while we appreciate the incentive approach, we have concerns with relying upon “yet unsecured funds” to replace 12,000 tractors by 2025. Isom also provided testimony opposing the fugitive dust and engines requirements.  The plan is expected to be adopted by the SJVAPCD in November and the ARB in December.