AG stickers showing up on California farm and ranch vehicles as air quality rule deadline looms

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Apr 23, 2010
by WLJ

Black-and-white “AG” stickers are showing up on agricultural diesel vehicles around the state as farmers and ranchers take steps to comply with a new regulation by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles operating on California roadways.

Through the efforts of the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) and other agricultural organizations, the ARB, in establishing the new regulation, granted an extended compliance period for certain agricultural trucks to have their diesel engines retrofitted or replaced. Those vehicles are the ones eligible to display the glossy 5-by-8-inch “AG” stickers.

Under the rule, qualified agricultural vehicles have at least until Jan. 1, 2017, to meet the new diesel standard. Agricultural trucks driven fewer than 10,000 miles a year will have until Jan. 1, 2023. Older, nonagricultural trucks must begin retrofitting their engines as early as 2011, depending on the age of the truck.

“I put less than 2,000 miles a year on this truck moving tractors and other farm equipment from one field to another,” said farmer Wallace Chan of Courtland, as he placed one of the AG stickers on the cab of a large diesel truck. “If I had to replace this truck’s engine, it would cost me a great deal of money, and this is an expense that I wouldn’t be able to pass on to anyone else. I am very thankful to Farm Bureau for getting farmers like me some more time to comply with these new rules.”

Farm Bureau facilitated ordering the “AG” stickers to be distributed by county Farm Bureaus and other agricultural organizations.

“Once your diesel truck qualifies as an agricultural vehicle under the rule, you have another obligation: You must clearly mark that truck. And you must mark it in a certain way, with the letters ‘AG’ on the left and right door of each qualified vehicle,” CFBF Director of Environmental Affairs Cynthia Cory said.

Owners must affix labels or paint an AG identification on their qualified diesel vehicles by April 30.

To make the process easier, Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations have provided stickers that meet the ARB rules for identifying agricultural diesel vehicles. Those stickers are available at county Farm Bureau offices around the state; Farm Bureau members may check with their county Farm Bureau to find out how to get them.

“We initially ordered 20,000 stickers. We have had an incredible response from county Farm Bureaus regarding the diesel sticker program. Almost all of the counties have placed at least one order, if not two or three. Many have been placing orders as their needs demand it. We have even had one county (Sonoma) order 2,000 stickers in one order,” said Margie Wood of the CFBF Leadership Development and Membership Marketing Division, who is coordinating statewide distribution of the stickers.

The decals can also be obtained from the California Agricultural Aircraft Association, California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Citrus Mutual, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, California Rice Commission, Nisei Farmers League, Western Plant Health Association, and Western United Dairymen.

There are five categories of diesel trucks that can qualify as agricultural vehicles under the rule: fertilizer or pesticide trucks; trucks owned by a farming business and used exclusively in agricultural operations; trucks designed for in-field operations; trucks used to carry products from farm to first point of processing; and specialty agricultural vehicles, a limited category for equipment such as cotton module movers, farmer-owned water trucks (not for hire), feed trucks at beef feedlots, or nurse rigs for agricultural aircraft. Specialty agricultural vehicles have no mileage restrictions, but are limited to 1,100 vehicles in the San Joaquin Valley and 2,200 statewide. Once the limits are reached, no more vehicles will qualify as specialty agricultural vehicles.

Cory said ARB is expected to make a number of changes to the emissions rule in the next few months. But those changes will not affect the compliance deadline for the agricultural portion of the rule, she said.

Although ARB had set a deadline of March 31 to participate in the agricultural compliance program, there is a possibility that applications submitted late may be accepted.

“I have been getting frequent calls about this from farmers and ranchers, and I am advising everyone to send their forms to ARB with their vehicle information as quickly as possible,” Cory said. “I think ARB is aware of what a large task it has been to educate people about this complicated rule, and we hope the board will be flexible in accepting applications.”

Diesel vehicles that do not qualify for the agricultural vehicle provisions must meet the requirements of the regulation like other, non-agricultural vehicles. Fact sheets, compliance tools and regulatory documents are available at www.arb.ca.gov/dieseltruck or by calling the ARB diesel hotline at 866/634-3735. — California Farm Bureau Federation

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