USDA Offers Conservation Innovation Grants

John DavisAgribusiness, Conservation, Government, NRCS, USDA

usda-logoThe federal government is offering up to $20 million in grants to help develop new, innovative markets for carbon credits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it wants applications for the grant money through the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program that will provide new, additional revenue sources for producers, while addressing natural resource conservation challenges.

“USDA has been a leader in supporting market-based solutions to improve water quality and reduce carbon pollution,” [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack said. “With this opportunity, we are supporting the next generation of projects that will help mature these markets and bring them to scale to benefit both producers and the environment.”

For 2015, approximately half of the $20 million is available for environmental markets and conservation finance projects that engage agricultural producers. In past years, CIG has helped fund the development of the basic infrastructure of these markets. This year, USDA, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking applications for projects that will build on these efforts by maturing and scaling markets and accelerating efforts to leverage private capital and investment in private lands conservation. Improved quantification tools, multi-resource crediting, and projects that substantively engage corporate or financial partners are the types of activities NRCS is pursuing.

The NRCS is accepting pre-proposals for initial review before applications for full proposals are submitted. Pre-proposals are due February 24, 2015. To apply electronically, visit or contact a local NRCS office.