FARMER Program Guidelines
On March 23, 2018, the Board approved the FARMER Program Guidelines. The Executive Summary is shown below and the full FARMER Program Guidelines may be accessed by selecting the download button from this page.
California’s agricultural industry consists of approximately 77,500 farms and ranches, providing over 400 different commodities, making agriculture one of the State’s most diverse industries. Producers, custom operators, first processors, and rental companies own and operate approximately 160,000 pieces of off-road, diesel-fueled, mobile agricultural equipment statewide, in addition to stationary equipment, and on-road vehicles used in agricultural operations. Even with increasingly more stringent emission standards on engine manufacturers, emissions from these vehicles and equipment are a significant source of air pollution. Reducing these emissions are necessary to meet federal ozone and particulate matter air quality standards, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley where the agricultural sector is a vibrant and critical part to the local and state economy, but also contributes to the poor air quality.
Most agricultural vehicles and equipment are operated for several decades – sometimes because the equipment is only used seasonally, but also due to the equipment durability, and relatively low cost to maintain compared to the cost of purchasing new vehicles or equipment. Unpredictable weather, varying commodity prices, farm size, and other factors impact a farmer’s ability to purchase new equipment. Because of the volatility of this sector, businesses are often reluctant to purchase new equipment unless absolutely necessary.
Natural turnover is not sufficient to meet California’s clean air needs. The primary driver for increased turnover in the off-road agricultural sector is due to local, state, and federal dollars leveraged with substantial private investment. While our air district and agricultural industry partners have been diligent in continuing to make strides in turning over their vehicles and equipment, more investment is needed.
In recognition of the strong need and this industry’s dedication to reducing their emissions, the State Legislature allocated $135 million to the California Air Resources Board (CARB or Board) from Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18. The Legislature directed the use of the monies to “reduce agricultural sector emissions by providing grants, rebates, and other financial incentives for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other equipment used in agricultural operations." CARB staff has developed the proposed Funding Agricultural Reduction Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program to meet the Legislature’s objectives and help meet the State’s criteria, toxic and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The FARMER Program Guidelines discuss the funding allocations for air districts, eligible project categories and criteria, program implementation details, and the justification for these investments.
CARB staff recommends that funds be allocated to local air districts to administer and staff is proposing a formula to distribute funds, based on statewide emissions from off‑road, mobile agricultural equipment and air quality and attainment status. Table ES‑1 displays the proposed distribution to the local air districts. Staff proposes to allocate 80 percent to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District because this district has a high concentration of emissions from vehicles and equipment used in the agricultural sector, a high proportion of disadvantaged communities, and is in extreme nonattainment with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. For the remaining 20 percent, staff proposes to distribute the funds through a formula based on each district’s portion of emissions from farm equipment in the publicly available inventory and attainment status with National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Staff also proposes combining funds into a shared pool for districts with less than one percent of the statewide emissions from farm equipment to access for FARMER Program-eligible projects.
Table ES-1: Proposed District Funding Allocations for FY 2017-18
|Air District||Proposed Funding Allocation|
|San Joaquin Valley||$108,000,000|
|San Luis Obispo||$906,800|
|Districts with less than 1 percent||$5,572,100|
Once under grant agreement with CARB, air districts will be able to use their funding on a suite of projects that will turn over older vehicles, equipment, and engines used in agricultural operations. These projects are based on cost-effectiveness, potential reduction of criteria pollutants and toxic air contaminants, contribution to regional air quality improvement, ability to achieve GHG reductions, and ability to promote the use of clean alternative fuels and vehicle technologies. Details of eligible project types are included in the proposed FARMER Program Guidelines.
For the first year of the FARMER Program, staff recommends directing investments primarily to agricultural projects that have been successfully implemented in other incentive programs, such as the Carl Moyer Program and the Air Quality Improvement Program. Utilizing this existing incentive program framework, at least initially, will help ensure that funds are spent efficiently and expeditiously. Further, should future funding become available, CARB staff will continue to analyze and expand the FARMER Program to provide emission reductions while meeting the needs of the agricultural sector.
Eligible project types included in the FARMER Program will reduce criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and GHG emissions from agricultural sources. Furthermore, agricultural regions are often surrounded by disadvantaged and low‑income communities and employ many of the residents living in these communities. Addressing the air quality and climate change impacts of vehicles and equipment used in agricultural operations is a multi‑year effort and the proposed FARMER Program Guidelines set the foundation for a long-term emission reduction program.