Agricultural burning is being allowed on an interim basis and under certain circumstances until a more permanent plan for agricultural burning is put into place.

California Citrus Mutual recently provided a summary on the status of ag burning.

The current burn program expired at the end of 2020 which meant ag burning wouldn't have been allowed to begin the year. But the California Air Resources Board has allowed for continued burning to continue under certain circumstances until the new ag burning program plan is adopted.

Agricultural burning isn't allowed in the San Joaquin Valley unless approved by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the CARB. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution District has implemented a plan to gradually reduce agricultural burning. As a result, the program plan must be updated and approved every five years.

The agricultural industry and the Air Pollution District worked on a plan that was adopted by the district on December 17. But the soonest the plan would be approved by CARB would be February 25.

Ag organizations, including CCM, sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom to call for CARB to allow for agricultural burning in the interim until CARB adopts the new plan. CARB has approved ag burning under special circumstances through February 24.

Ag burning is allowed “where issues such as disease pose obstacles to implementing alternatives.” That includes, CCM reported:

Burning of weeds and vegetative materials on rice field levees and banks; weed abatement burning around ponds and levee banks; burning of apple, pear and quince crop prunings and orchard removals; and burning of diseased beehives.

When a grower can document an immediate need to clear a field for planting, the Air Pollution Control District can also give that grower a permit to burn. The burning also has to follow the guidelines of the new burning plan yet to be approved by CARB that was approved in December by the Air Pollution Control District.

CCM reported as of January 1 open burns for citrus orchard removals for an entire operation that's greater than 500 acres and citrus orchard removals greater than 40 acres at one site are still prohibited. Whether burning will be allowed at total operations of less than 500 acres and single sites between 15 and 40 acres will be determined on a case-by-case bases.

On January 1, 2022, those numbers when it comes to what burning will be allowed will be reduced to 200 acres for entire operations and 30 acres for a single site.

All citrus orchard open burns will be banned on January 1, 2023, with the exception of small orchards smaller than 15 acres.

CARB's letter outlining ag burning that's allowed can be found here: https://www.cacitrusmutual.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/ag-burning-letter-to-sjv-apcd-limited-approval-01-03-2021-830-am-rwc-signed.pdf

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