Historically, the practice for disposing of agricultural waste materials such as prunings and orchard removals has been through the open burning of the materials in the field. Burning agricultural materials has provided a feasible method for the timely disposal of these materials, helping to prevent the spread of plant diseases, and controlling weeds and pests. Air Quality District, California Air Resources Board (ARB), and growers have implemented a number of measures to reduce open burning emissions and minimize the impact over the years. Information about burn permits are offered through local air districts.
Specifically, the San Joaquin Valley, in adherence with applicable state laws instituted under SB 705 (2003 Florez), has the toughest restrictions on agricultural burning in the state. Under state law, open burning for agricultural crop categories are required to be phased-out under a prescribed schedule, unless certain findings are made with respect to the availability of funding and economically feasible alternatives to open burning. In June 2021, the ARB and the San Joaquin Valley Air District adopted a revised schedule to support a near-complete phase-out of agricultural burning in the Valley. Through these District and CARB Board actions, by January 1, 2025, only very limited open burning of agricultural material will be allowed in the Valley. In response to the near-complete phase-out of agricultural burning adopted by ARB and the District, the California Legislature appropriated $180 million in the Budget Act of 2021 (SB 129, Skinner) to ARB to grant to the District to support incentives for alternatives to agricultural burning in the Valley.