An additional $2.2 million dollars has been made available to California through the 2003 Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to help farmers replace diesel engines with new ones that meet EPA clean air guidelines.

Helen Flach, assistant state conservationist with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service in Davis, Calif., said the deadline for making application for 50/50 matching funds to replace engines has been extended to June 1.

These funds are part of the $38 million made available to farmers under the expanded EQIP program as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, which funded the program nationally with $6.1 billion. In 2002 only $17 million in EQIP funds came to California.

NRCS had funded 140 engines replacements in the 18 non-attainment counties in the state before Flach extended the deadline.

These engine replacement funds are the only monies still available for farmers to apply for as part of the EQIP program, which attracted 5,000 applications before Feb. 28 deadline for all programs. NRCS is processing those applications.

“The Environmental Quality Incentive Program can help producers meet the requirements of environmental regulations,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, in releasing the funds. “These funds will help California producers comply with new air quality rules.”

Replacing the stationary diesel engines is expected to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions and improve air quality.

Farmers may make application for these funds at their local NRCS field office or can go on-line at http://ca.nrcs.usda.gov.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com