Association Seeks Tractor Replacement Funding But Budget Looms Large

Association President/CEO Roger Isom spent part of this past week at the State Capitol meeting legislators in an all-out effort to reinstate FARMER funding into the state budget.  The Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) is an incentive program designed to help farmers achieve voluntary emission reductions by helping pay for new lean burning tractors and harvesters while having the farmers destroy the older higher emitting equipment.  As of last year, more than 4,200 tractors and harvesters had been replaced as well as 277 ag trucks and 66 ag pump engines with the lowest emission equipment available.  In addition, more than 2,600 fuel burning ATVs had been replaced with fully electric UTVs.  In total, this has generated more than 20,000 tons of NOx reductions, 1,200 tons of PM reductions, and more than 185,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents.  The hugely successful program has been a win-win for everyone especially air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  The program is also part of an important State Implementation Plan (SIP) that promotes the use of the incentives as meeting as part of an effort to achieve 11 tons per day of NOx emissions by the end of 2023.  Should the goal not be achieved, it will force the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop and implement a mandatory tractor replacement rule that will require the replacement of every Tier 0, 1 and 2 tractor and harvester by 2030!  This would be devastating to farmers throughout the valley that are already battling high energy, labor, fuel and other input costs while dealing with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Unfortunately, the growing statewide budget deficit is weighing heavy on legislators as they fight to keep funding in existing programs.  “Every office we visited understood the importance of the FARMER program, but many indicated this is a very tough year from a fiscal perspective”, stated Isom.  “Nonetheless, many indicated their support of the FARMER program, and we remain hopeful some amount of funding will be reinstated.”  The Association is part of a large coalition seeking $160 million in FARMER funding for FY 2023.