USDA now provides financial assistance to help Rhode Island farmers and forest landowners replace older high-emitting diesel tractors and non-tractor on-farm agricultural equipment with new cleaner-burning or electric equipment.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has expanded its combustion system improvement practice to provide financial assistance to RI farmers and forest landowners to replace old high-emitting diesel engine tractors and other mobile on-farm equipment (loaders, forklifts, motor graders and backhoes) with either low-emitting diesel or electric equipment. Financial assistance is also available to help farmers and forest landowners replace other higher-emitting combustion devices, such as irrigation engines, boilers, heaters, and orchard/vineyard frost protection equipment with cleaner-burning or non-burning alternatives.
The combustion system improvement practice (Conservation Practice Standard 372) offered by NRCS is one of the many conservation practices available to farmers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
“Replacing old high-emitting tractors and on-farm equipment with new low-emitting or electric equipment improves air quality, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves the energy efficiency of on-farm equipment. It also benefits farmers and forest landowners through energy savings,” Rhode Island State Conservationist, Phou Vongkhamdy said. “Right now, we have significant funding available for our conservation programs through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Farm Bill, and we encourage interested Rhode Islanders to apply today.”
The amount of financial assistance available for the combustion system improvement practice is dependent upon the type of equipment being replaced and what it is being replaced with (i.e., new cleaner diesel or electric). Specific payment rates are reviewed, added and/or revised each year to incentivize the adoption of conservation technologies and approaches.
In order to receive assistance, those using the practice are required to document the destruction and proper disposal of their existing equipment being replaced to prevent the old units from continued operation, reuse or movement into another locale.
Electric on farm-equipment, including tractors, have zero on-farm emissions and would represent a significant reduction in air emissions from diesel-powered equipment and provides opportunities for producers to save energy. Replacing high-emitting diesel tractors or other on-farm equipment with electric options through the combustion system improvement practice is one of many climate-smart agriculture and forestry mitigation activities available for funding through the Inflation Reduction Act.
In 2024 alone, USDA is making more than $3 billion available nationally through the Inflation Reduction Act for climate-smart mitigation activities, in addition to the over $2 billion available through the Farm Bill. This extensive funding will be used to meet demand for oversubscribed conservation programs, maximize climate benefits and to help farmers and forest landowners address their natural resource challenges.
To learn more about NRCS programs, RI farmers and forest landowners can contact their local USDA Service Center. Producers can also apply for NRCS programs, manage conservation plans and contracts, and view and print conservation maps by logging into their farmers.gov account. If you don’t have an account, sign up today.
Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.
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