USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making air quality funds available to help agricultural producers improve and maintain air quality within designated nonattainment areas of California. Funding for the National Air Quality Initiative (NAQI) is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Producers interested in participating in this initiative are encouraged to get their applications in soon.
EQIP applications are accepted year-round, but interested producers need to be ready by July 29, 2016 to be considered for this year’s funding. To be ready for EQIP funding consideration, interested applicants will need to: 1) submit the application form, 2) meet program eligibility requirements, 3) develop a conservation plan, and 4) approve their ‘EQIP schedule of operations.’ The time needed to complete a conservation plan and process eligibility can vary, from a few weeks to more than a month, depending on the complexity of the farming operation.
“We’ve had great success with this initiative in some of the high priority areas of the state,” said Assistant State Conservationist Alan Forkey. “We entered into 606 contracts with farmers who are voluntarily undertaking this work—the Agency invested $19 million and the farmers matched that—for a total of $38 million in 2015 alone. This new funding offers an opportunity for producers who have not yet participated.”
NAQI can help agricultural producers implement conservation practices that reduce air pollution from agricultural sources. Financial assistance is targeted to counties that have been identified as having significant air quality resource concerns by being designated as nonattainment for Ozone or Particulate Matter. These areas experience air pollution levels that persistently exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards established by the Clean Air Act.
For fiscal year 2016, interested owners or operators of land managed for agricultural production in the following counties may be eligible for the National Air Quality Initiative:
Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.
Typical conservation treatments for this initiative include replacing old, high-polluting off-road mobile farm equipment with newer, cleaner models and transitioning to cleaner irrigation pump engines and electric motors. More information is available in the program description on the NRCS website or by contacting the local USDA Service Center.
NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources since 1935.
View the original announcement on the NRCS website here.