Home News Ag Economics $12.5M Now Available for Low-Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program

$12.5M Now Available for Low-Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program

Almond Board of California — Starting February 9, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (District) is offering $12.5M total in state and federal funding to Central Valley nut growers through its Low-Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program. This program aims to improve air quality in the valley by helping growers fund the purchase of harvesting equipment that achieves at least a 40% reduction in particulate matter (PM) emissions or, simply put, harvest dust.

This program comes roughly three years after the District allocated $2M toward a Low-Dust Nut Harvester Pilot Program, supported by the Almond Board, which allowed for the replacement of 29 older, conventional nut harvesters with new, low-dust harvesters throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Through that program, growers and custom harvesters had the opportunity to provide feedback on the performance of low-dust equipment, feedback that the District said, “has been overwhelmingly positive” and accordingly “interest in the program significantly exceeded available funding.”

Based on feedback and growing demand for low-dust equipment, the District secured funding to launch the new Low-Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program, which provides funding to growers via two separate categories:

  • The District received $10M from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Targeted Air Shed Grant. These funds may be allocated to nut growers within the entire District basin, which covers seven counties from San Joaquin to Kern.
  • Additionally, the District received $2.5M in funding through the state’s Community Emission Reduction Program for the deployment of low-dust nut harvesting equipment operating within the community of Shafter. This means there is $2.5M allocated specifically for nut growers operating within a seven-mile radius of Shafter, as defined by California Assembly Bill 617.1

“The California almond industry is driven by family farmers, many who have a vested interest in improving air quality during harvest as they themselves live, work and raise their families in these local communities,” said Jesse Roseman, principal analyst in Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the Almond Board of California (ABC).

“This program allows the industry to continue moving the needle toward a future with reduced harvest dust and improved air quality, an objective outlined in the industry’s Almond Orchard 2025 Goals. These goals not only encourage innovation to improve industry practices and ensure profitability, but also to protect our communities and environment by continuing to grow almonds in better, safer, and healthier ways,” said Roseman.

The following guidelines detail how the District will allocate program funding between the two sources of capital:

Environmental Protection Agency (federal): $10M

  • Eligible Entities: Growers and customer harvesters in the San Joaquin Valley Air basin.
  • Eligible Equipment for Purchase:
    • Equipment, such as qualified pick-up machines, that achieve a minimum 40% PM2.5 reduction compared to standard equipment, as demonstrated by available peer-reviewed information and/or District-approved methodology
    • Funding available to replace a maximum of five machines
      • Maximum of $150,000 awarded per machine.
  • Funding Available:
    • Funds will cover up to 50% of the cost of eligible equipment.
  • Funding Allocation: Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, based on submittal of complete applications.
  • Old Equipment Disposition: Participants must agree to destroy or render existing old equipment permanently inoperable in accordance with established District criteria.

Community Emission Reduction Program – Shafter: $2.5M

Growers and custom harvesters within a seven-mile radius of Shafter are heavily encouraged to apply for equipment replacement funding as the District will cover up to 75% of the cost to purchase each new piece of equipment, and there is no limit on the number of eligible pieces of equipment for which applicants may receive funds.

  • Eligible Entities: Growers and custom harvesters operating within a seven-mile radius of Shafter, as defined by the Shafter AB 617 community boundary.
  • Eligible Equipment for Purchase:
    • Equipment, such as qualified pick-up machines, that achieve a minimum 40% PM2.5 reduction compared to standard equipment, as demonstrated by available peer-reviewed information and/or District-approved methodology.
    • There is NO LIMIT on the number of pieces of equipment for which an applicant may receive funding. In addition, there is NO maximum amount awarded for each individual piece of machinery.
  • Funding Available:
    • Funds will cover up to 75% of the cost of eligible equipment for those operating within a seven-mile radius of Shafter, as defined by the Shafter AB 617 community boundary.
  • Funding Allocation: Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, based on submittal of complete applications.
  • Old Equipment Disposition: Participants must agree to destroy or render existing old equipment permanently inoperable in accordance with established District criteria.

To note: Equipment eligible for purchase through the Low-Dust Harvester Pilot Program does qualify for funding through this new program. Off-ground harvesting equipment may also be eligible.

“This low-dust harvesting program provides a great example of research coming full circle for the California almond industry,” said Roseman. “For over 15 years, the Almond Board has explored opportunities to reduce harvest dust by funding research, producing harvest best management practices for growers and custom harvesters, and gaining a greater understanding of how the industry can contribute to the big picture of improving air quality in the Central Valley.

“In 2018, the Almond Board supported the District’s Low-Dust Harvester Pilot Program to further help growers and custom harvesters invest in low-dust equipment. Today, with millions of dollars available to the industry, ABC is thrilled to again support the District and the industry as we work together to improve air quality in the Central Valley while simultaneously advancing the use of low-dust harvesting equipment.”

Those interested in applying for this program should visit the District website for more information. The application will be posted to the website on February 9, so be sure to check the site frequently that day if you wish to submit your application early.

Growers and custom harvesters should direct all questions to the District’s Supervisor of Strategies & Incentives Aaron Tarango at aaron.tarango@valleyair.org or (559) 230-5873.

1 The community of Shafter was prioritized by the District and subsequently selected by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as one of two communities in the San Joaquin Valley to receive clean air resources newly available under California Assembly Bill 617, which requires CARB and air districts to develop and implement measures to improve air quality in disadvantaged communities. One measure identified and prioritized by the Shafter Community Steering Committee was to provide enhanced and dedicated incentive funding for low-dust harvesters operating within the Shafter AB 617 community boundary

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