Sept 16 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the award of 33 Conservation Innovation Grants awarded to entities across the nation to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas to accelerate private lands conservation. Grant recipients will demonstrate innovative approaches to improve soil health, conserve energy, manage nutrients and enhance wildlife habitat in balance with productive agricultural systems. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers this competitive grants program.
"Conservation Innovation Grants activate creativity and problem-solving to benefit conservation-minded farmers and ranchers," Vilsack said. "These grants are critical for developing and demonstrating new ideas for conservation on America's private lands and strengthening rural communities. Everyone relies on our nation's natural resources for food, fiber, and clean water and will benefit from these grants."
"The Conservation Innovation Grant program brings together the strength and innovation of the private and non-profit sectors, academia, producers, and others to develop and test cutting-edge conservation tools and technologies and work side-by-side with producers to demonstrate how solutions work on the land," NRCS Chief Jason Weller said.
As climate changes, extreme weather events are becoming more common, these partnership grants drive cutting-edge conservation techniques that can make our nation's landscape more resilient to these changes.
The awards total $13.3 million. Six of the approved grants support conservation technologies and approaches to help farmers and ranchers who historically have not had equal access to agricultural programs because of race or ethnicity, or who have limited resources, or who are beginning farmers and ranchers.
The 33 grants announced today include:
A full list of recipients is available here.
The grants are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Grantees must work with producers and forestland owners to develop and demonstrate the new technologies and approaches.
At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.
NRCS has offered this grant program since 2004, investing in ways to demonstrate and transfer efficient and environmentally friendly farming and ranching. In the past nine years, the grants have helped develop trading markets for water quality and have shown how farmers and ranchers may use fertilizer, water and energy more efficiently.
Secretary Vilsack said thes announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs to rural America. A comprehensive five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that is just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.
For more on this grant program, visit USDA's Conservation Innovation Grants webpage or contact your local NRCS office.