USDA Announces $15 Million for Conservation Innovation Grants
The USDA announced today a $15 million investment to help support the adoption of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural lands.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting proposals through June 29, 2020, for national Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). CIG projects inspire creative problem-solving solutions that boost production on farms, ranches, and private forests, and improve natural resources.
This year’s priorities are water reuse, water quality, air quality, energy, and wildlife habitat.
“Through Conservation Innovation Grants, we’re able to co-invest with partners on the next generation of agricultural conservation solutions,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr says. “Conservation Innovation Grants have helped spur new tools and technologies to conserve natural resources, build resilience in producers’ operations, and improve their bottom lines. This year will be the first time we are offering water reuse as a priority, and we’re excited to see how these projects play a role in USDA’s broader strategy for water reuse on agricultural land.”
CIG is a competitive grants program that supports development, testing, and research of conservation technologies, practices, systems, and approaches on private lands. Grantees must match the CIG investment at least one to one.
The National CIG program supports early pilot projects or demonstrations of promising conservation approaches and is distinct from the $25 million announced on March 12 for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. On-Farm Trials is a separate CIG component created by the 2018 Farm Bill. It includes a Soil Health Demonstration Trial.
State NRCS offices are also able to fund and hold their own CIG competitions in addition to the National CIG sign-up.
NRCS’s CIG program is identified in the federal government’s National Water Reuse Action Plan as an opportunity to support the development of innovative projects that focus on water reuse on private lands. The USDA is working with the U.S. EPA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, and others to promote water reuse across sectors.
CIG also contributes to the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a USDA initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, USDA is working to stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.