The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has announced $10 million in additional funding for farmers and ranchers interested in reducing air quality emissions from off-road mobile or stationary agricultural sources.

The funding is in addition to over $13 million made available earlier this year for agricultural air quality improvements through the 2008 farm bill's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The funding offers agricultural producers incentives for retiring old, inefficient engines that contribute to air pollution problems.

"This program has been so successful that we wanted to make more funding available for the large number of farmers and ranchers still requesting assistance this year," said Ed Burton, NRCS California state conservationist. "We'll be able to help more producers than we did in 2009."

The program's success shows in the numbers. NRCS administered $18.7 million and funded 335 applications for replacement of on-farm diesel combustion engines in 2009.

Thirty-six counties are eligible for the funds to help achieve compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The counties include Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo.

"These counties are currently not in compliance with air quality standards for eight-hour ozone and particulate matter," Burton said. "We're impressed how farmers and ranchers have stepped up and made an investment in improving California's air quality."

Producers must provide about half of the funds needed to voluntarily swap out older engines for newer, more efficient ones that are nearly 75 percent cleaner. Stationary, portable, and heavy-duty off-road mobile systems are included as part of the program.

NRCS has worked with academic, conservation, regulatory and industry groups to identify agricultural practices that will reduce ozone precursors, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) emissions from agricultural sources.

Applications have been ranked according to the amount of emission reductions achieved in the producer's proposed plan.

For more information, go online to www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/2010/index.html.

While an application backlog exists, interested producers in eligible counties can contact their local NRCS Service Center for information about future opportunities. A list of offices is available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA.