The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program is now offering up to $20 million in competitive grants, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA hopes the grants will increase the development and adoption of the latest technology in conservation methods for farmers, ranchers and landowners.
“The Conservation Innovation Grant program has an impressive track record of fostering innovative conservation tools and strategies,” said Vilsack. “Successes in the program can translate into new opportunities for historically underserved landowners, help resolve pressing water conservation challenges and leverage new investments in conservation partnerships with farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.”
Administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CIG is part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and is designed to focus on innovative conservation projects that promote science-based solutions to benefit both producers and the environment. Projects may include on-farm pilot projects and field demonstrations, and are funded to accelerate the transfer and adoption of promising technologies to landowners in order to address critical natural resource concerns.
The USDA is looking for programs that will help traditionally underserved producers, improve and protect water quality, and improve public/private partnerships. Already $2 million has been set aside for projects that serve veteran farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers and those with limited resources.
Grants are awarded through a nationally competitive process. Projects cannot exceed three years and must involve EQIP- eligible producers or landowners. At least 50 percent of the total costs must be matched by non-federal sources. Applications are due by May 10, 2016.