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$25M in conservation innovation grants made available

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a $25 million per year investment in Conservation Innovation Grants. Producers can now apply for grants to improve conservation-minded approaches to irrigation water management, nutrient management, and soil health before September 22. To apply, visit grants.gov.

“Through science and innovation, we can develop solutions to tackle the climate crisis, conserve and protect our water, enhance soil health, and create economic opportunities for producers,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Through On-Farm Trials, partners can work directly with farmers and ranchers to test and adopt new strategies on agricultural lands, accelerating the development and application of conservation that works for producers and the land.”

»Related: Conservation in agriculture is a constant state of learning

CIG is a competitive program that aims to support the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. These approaches are aimed at benefiting natural resources while improving agricultural operations. 

On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials were originally authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The trials work to support more widespread adoption of innovative approaches, practices, and systems on working lands. After strategies are implemented, NRCS and partners evaluate their impact. Grantees must match the CIG investment on at least a one-to-one basis; however, incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches. 

Image by maxbelchenko, Shutterstock

Who can apply?

Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture, nongovernmental organizations with experience working with agricultural producers, and non-federal government agencies are eligible to apply. CIG projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers. Competitions are available on the national and state levels and through On-Farm Trials. 

Ten percent of total funds available for On-Farm Trials have been set aside for historically underserved producers. Applicants competing for historically underserved grants can waive non-federal match requirements.

Historically underserved farmers must meet the categories defined by the USDA’s Limited Resources Farmer or Rancher, Beginning Farmer or Rancher, Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher, or Veteran Farmer or Rancher. 

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