New Open Burn Ban Assistance Available

As Valley Air District officials urge farmers to be aware of new agricultural open burning phase-out requirements, they are also suggesting they take advantage of the Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program to assist with the processing of vineyard and orchard removals through new non- alternative burning. The program is available to growers throughout the Valley, with dedicated and enhanced funding available to smaller farming operations.

“Working with Valley growers, communities, and state partners, the San Joaquin Valley is once again demonstrating unique leadership in tackling air quality and climate challenges through the only-of-its-kind strategy to eliminate open burning of orchard and vineyard removals,” stated Samir Sheikh, Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer of the Valley Air District. “We strongly urge growers, especially smaller farming operations, to carefully plan for these new requirements and take advantage of new resources for new alternatives that help with our air quality challenges and also provide significant additional crop and carbon reduction benefits.”

As part of ongoing clean air efforts in the San Joaquin Valley, the Valley Air District, in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), has adopted a new strategy for phasing-out the remaining agricultural open burning of woody waste from orchard and vineyard removals by the end of 2024. Using the latest research on emerging alternatives, the new strategy provides for a rapid transition away from open burning while providing additional flexibility to the smallest farming operations to adjust to phase-outs. Through Valley-based research and newly available state funding, significant resources and assistance are available to assist in reducing the high costs associated with new alternatives.

“Working with our Valley growers to reduce this practice through new technologies is critically important to improving public health for our residents, particularly in rural Valley communities,” stated Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, Valley Air District and CARB Board member. “Newly available resources will help Valley growers transition to these new practices in a feasible manner that protects our communities’ health and livelihood.”

“As a second-generation Valley grower, I understand the difficulties faced by growers in responding to the drought and many other challenges, and critical importance of transitioning to new and more sustainable practices,” stated Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, Chair of the Valley Air District Governing Board. “The Valley Air District is here to assist growers in responding to these challenges.”

Since the adoption of the Valley Air District’s Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program and new phase-out requirements, the San Joaquin Valley has seen a tremendous reduction in open burning through the adoption of new practices, and is on track to achieving a 90 percent reduction by the end of this year. Additional requirements for smaller growers at the end of 2022 and 2023 will continue to provide for additional reductions in open burning prior to the phase-out by the end of 2024.

Information regarding the new phase-out requirements is available at: https://ww2.valleyair.org/agriculture/agricultural-burning

Information regarding available local, state, and federal resources is available at:

• Valley Air District’s Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Grant Program: https://valleyair.org/grants/alt-ag-burning.htm.

• USDA-NRCS EQIP Program: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=stelprdb1044009

• California Department of Food and Agriculture Healthy Soils Program: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/

Information regarding the Valley Air District’s public complaint line for any concerns regarding burning is available at:

• Online form at: https://ww2.valleyair.org/file-a-complaint

• Valley Air District iPhone or Android application at: http://www.valleyair.org/app

• By phone at (by county of residence): San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced (800) 281-7003; Madera, Fresno, Kings (800) 870-1037; Tulare, Valley portion of Kern (800) 926-5550.

The Valley Air District covers eight counties including San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and San Joaquin Valley air basin portions of Kern. For additional information about the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, visit www.valleyair.org or call 559-230-6000.