The federal government has changed its tune on air quality in California, with the U.S. EPA easing pressure on the state to impose more stringent air-pollution controls on farms. Just last month, the EPA said the state should repeal a law exempting large farms from air-pollution monitoring permits; now, it is calling instead for an amendment requiring only “major” farm-based pollution sources to seek permits. That position echoes the preference of the farm lobby, and state Sen. Dean Florez (D), who supports complete repeal, suspects politics played a role in the switch. Farms are responsible for as much as 20 percent of San Joaquin Valley smog, but for decades, they have been exempt from the kind of air-quality programs that apply to power plants and factories. Clean-air advocates are trying to close that loophole, and Florez says they will not be deterred by the position change of the EPA: “We are not interested in doing the minimum. We want to clean the air.”