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February 11, 2020  |  Written by Michael E. Vergara

March 1st Deadline for FARMER Funding Applications Quickly Approaching

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently announced that the first application period for the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reduction (FARMER) program in the state’s smaller air districts closes March 1, 2020.  The second application period runs from May 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020.  CARB’s FARMER program provides funds, through local air districts, to help farmers replace aging agricultural equipment and vehicles that emit diesel emissions and greenhouse gases.  Moreover, FARMER funds can help industry members comply with CARB’s stringent emission regulations requiring large fleets to phase out tier 2 portable diesel engines by 2022 and preventing small fleets from adding off-road vehicles with tier 2 engines by 2023.

Project categories eligible for FARMER funds include on-road heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles, stationary and portable engine sources, Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV), and infrastructure currently engaged in or supporting “agricultural operations.”  CARB’s In-Use Off-Road Diesel Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) defines “agricultural operations” as:

(1) the growing or harvesting of crops from soil (including forest operations) and the raising of plants at wholesale nurseries, but not retail nurseries, or the raising of fowl or animals for the primary purpose of making a profit, providing a livelihood, or conducting agricultural research or instruction by an educational institution, or (2) agricultural crop preparation services such as packinghouses, cotton gins, nut hullers and processors, dehydrators, and feed and grain mills.  Cal. Code Regs., tit. 13, § 2449, subd. (c).

Of the $132 million that the FARMER program received for fiscal year 2018-2019, approximately $4.65 million is designated for the Shared Allocation Pool (SAP).  The SAP includes 18 smaller air districts contributing less than one percent of the state’s total agriculture equipment emissions.  Those “shared pool” districts include:

·         Amador County APCD ·         Modoc County APCD
·         Antelope Valley AQMD ·         Mojave Desert AQMD
·         Calaveras County APCD ·         North Coast Unified AQMD
·         El Dorado County AQMD ·         Northern Sierra AQMD
·         Great Basin Unified APCD ·         Northern Sonoma County APCD
·         Lake County AQMD ·         Placer County APCD
·         Lassen County APCD ·         Shasta County AQMD
·         Mariposa County APCD ·         Siskiyou County APCD
·         Mendocino County AQMD ·         Tuolumne County APCD

Applicants to the FARMER program must complete the MSCD/ISB-183 Farmer Program Grant Disbursement Request Form available on CARB’s website and submit the application to their local Air Pollution Control or Air Quality Management District.  Once the respective local air districts review the applications for completeness, all applications are sent to the Placer County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) which manages the “shared pool.”  Placer County APCD will then provide the local air districts with a list of maximum funding award amounts for recommended projects.  To avoid potential conflicts of interest, farmers located within Placer County are not eligible for FARMER funds and should contact Placer County APCD for alternative agricultural replacement opportunities using different funding sources.

For further information on this topic, please contact Michael Vergara at mvergara@somachlaw.com.

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