Funds are now available to farmers and ranchers interested in reducing air quality emissions from off-road mobile or stationary agricultural sources.

Applications will be accepted until June 26, 2009, for funds made available under a new air quality provision of the 2008 federal farm bill.

The funding, $10.9 million, is being administered by the USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is a new feature of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers to consider applying for this money,” said A.G. Kawamura, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture. “The funded projects will help producers reach air quality standards, and that is critical as agriculture continues its conscientious environmental stewardship.”

Producers in 36 counties are eligible to use the new funds to help achieve compliance with the ambient air quality standards for 8-hour ozone and PM10 and PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns, respectively).

The eligible 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.

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

Applications will be ranked according to the amount of emission reductions achieved in the proposed plan.

Funded practices include the NRCS' combustions system air emissions management practice to improve high polluting, fully functional engines with newer, reduced-emission technologies that meet or exceed current emission standards. Stationary, portable, and heavy-duty off-road mobile systems will be included.

Other covered air quality practices will include conservation tillage, dust control on farm roads, precision pest control, and manure injection.

Interested applicants in eligible counties should contact their local NRCS service center. A list of offices is available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA.