September 28, 2023

Interpretive Summary: USDA gives 65 million dollars in conservation grants

USDA gives $65 million in conservation grants 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $65 million through the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Program. The funds will support two programs, designed to provide new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. CIG partners work to address the nation's water quality, air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat challenges, while also improving agricultural operations.

“This year’s Conservation Innovation Grants competition is unique in that we’re able to increase available funds because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which will fund projects that address climate change, with a particular focus on solutions to reduce enteric methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas,” said the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby. “Science and innovation are the keys to helping farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners succeed in the face of global challenges, like climate change. We’re eager to see what innovations come to fruition and can be integrated into our programs and tools, thanks to this influx of new funding.”   

The first of the two funding opportunities is CIG Classic. These consist of national competition for projects that support the early-stage development and piloting of new tools, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. For CIG Classic, the new funding priorities are:  

  • Forestry  
  • Habitat conservation and restoration for wildlife and invertebrates  
  • Managing agricultural lands to improve local water quality  
  • Energy conservation  
  • Economics  
  • Strengthening conservation through indigenous knowledge  

The second funding opportunity is the CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. This form of funding opportunity entails a national competition for projects that support more widespread adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers. On-Farm Trials Awardees provide technical assistance and incentive payments to producers to help compensate for risks associated with the implementation of new conservation practices, systems, and approaches. For CIG On-Farm Trials, new funding priorities are:   

  • Irrigation water management technologies  
  • Nutrient management  
  • Feeding management and enteric methane reduction  
  • Grazing lands  
  • Soil health demonstration trials  

If interested in either program, applications are accepted now through October 30, 2023. For both programs, strong considerations will be given to proposals that include Historically Underserved entities and individuals.