Planet Gore

Shocker: Farmers Not Buying Cleaner, More Expensive Tractors

AP: (emphasis mine below)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Farm equipment manufacturers are rolling out cleaner tractors to meet stricter new federal air regulations, but many in the industry say the challenge will be getting farmers to put the high-priced models into fields during hard economic times.

The rules that went into effect Saturday apply to tractors, construction vehicles and other so-called nonroad equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the vehicles are major sources of particulate-matter emissions — the stuff that makes smoke black and air difficult to breathe.

Federal air standards have been tightening since the mid-1990s. The 2011 regulations are the latest step, requiring that diesel engines built starting this year produce even fewer of the nitrous oxides that can cause acid rain.

Tractor makers, including Deere & Co. and Case IH, have unveiled a number of new models that meet the so-called Tier 4 standards. But with the greener technology adding about 10 percent to the price, many farmers say they’re in no hurry to upgrade tractors that might last another 25 years or more. Others are upgrading but their old tractors are getting traded in and resold rather than retired.

Given that, the effects of the new regulations may not be felt for decades.

Paul Fortkamp, who raises poultry in Fort Recovery, Ohio, has upgraded, buying a Tier 4 tractor from Case IH in Racine, Wis., for use with his corn and soybean crops. The tractor treats the exhaust with a nitrogen-based compound that converts it to mostly water vapor and atmospheric nitrogen.

Fortkamp bought the $120,000 tractor to replace a 30-year-old vehicle that he plans to sell. He said his buying decision was based on cost, not environmental concerns.

“I needed to upgrade,” Fortkamp said, “but the price of used equipment has gotten so high that I figured I might as well buy new. It wasn’t a huge difference in cost.”

Decades. Heckuva job, EPA. The rest here.


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