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Valley Air District Gets $178M to End Ag Burns Once and for All

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The Valley Air District revealed a plan on Friday to end ag burning by Jan. 1, 2025. (Shutterstock)
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Armed with $178.2 million in new state funding, the Valley Air District is expanding aid to farmers to end ag burning by 2025.

“The District and the California Air Resources Board have approved a strategy that will result in a near-complete phase-out of all Valley agricultural burning by Jan. 1, 2025,” the district said in a news release Friday afternoon.

“To meet this deadline, the Air District has worked closely with agricultural stakeholders and leaders to bring new state funding to the Valley to help ensure that this phase-out is successful.”

The new funding provides incentives to farmers to chip woody materials instead of burning them.

Ag Burns Harmful to Valley Health

Clear-air advocates, doctors, and scientists have long chronicled ag burning’s harmful effects on the health of Valley residents.

Ag burns are a significant contributor to PM 2.5 pollution which, at elevated levels, causes serious health problems — especially for children and older adults.

A state law enacted in 2003 was supposed to end burning in the Valley by 2010. But instead of a ban, the law yielded a slow phase-out combining incentives for compliance and fines up to $20,000 for those who burned without permits.

“With this new funding, … the grant program will be enhanced to provide additional funding for small agricultural operations of less than 100 total acres,” the air district said.

Other program enhancements include funding for vineyard removals and paying for new chipping equipment to be used in the Valley.

District officials said the new program begins early next month. Additional information: www.valleyair.org/grants, 559 230-5800.

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email