Federal funds help farmers improve Valley air quality

FRESNO, Calif.

Funds are in place to help Valley farmers replace older tractors and other farm equipment with newer models which produce much less pollution.

The money will cover half of what a farmer would pay for a new tractor. Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League says $10 million have been added to the $13 million already available for growers around the state. Cunha said, "They are absolutely essential because if we don't do this they're already being so over-regulated they can't pass the cost onto the consumer."

Cunha explained older tractor models are being targeted for replacement. He said, "The non-cleaner engine is the '96 and back and that's what we're trying to do and focus on."

Ed Burton of the Natural Resources Conservation Service says a large number of ranchers and farmers requested assistance this year so more money was made available.

Congressman Jim Costa calls the announcement a win for the Valley economy. Cunha says 11-hundred local farmers qualify for the program but there's not enough funding to help even half of them.

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