The USDA has announced the investment of $26.6 million into 45 projects that will spur innovative conservation initiatives on both rural and urban farms across the country, including nearly $6 million for projects benefiting California. Public and private grantees will provide matching investments, bringing the total value of support across the country to $59 million.
The USDA investment is made through the agency’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.
The projects connected to California are:
- Kings River Watershed Coalition Authority – $2 million for conservation practices to protect groundwater quality
- Resource Conservation District of Monterey County – $1.37 milion to improve water quality on irrigated lands
- Sustainable Conservation – $833,250 for demonstration of a subsurface drip irrigation system utilizing dairy manure to improve water use efficiency and nutrient application uniformity
- American Rivers – $498,888 for “pay-for-success” conservation programs in the Central Valley
- The Nature Conservancy – $169,716 for an “impact investing” loan program offering reduced interest rates in exchange for conservation practices
- The American Forest Foundation – $750,000 for the development of a forest resilience bond on private forest lands
- KCOE Isom – $433,807 to catalyze private investment in habitat mitigation markets
The 2016 projects focus on water quality, conservation finance and assistance to historically underserved USDA customers. Approximately 25 percent of the funding will go to projects that benefit historically underserved producers, military veterans, and new and beginning farmers. A full listing of this fiscal year’s selected projects is available here: www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig.
CIG is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The maximum grant is $2 million per project and the length of time for project completion is three years. The CIG projects are designed to engage EQIP-eligible producers in on-the-ground conservation activities that accelerate transfer and adoption of innovative conservation technology and approaches.
CIG awards competitive grants to local and state units of governments, American Indian tribes and individuals. Through CIG, USDA works with other public and private entities to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns.
Read more about the Grant Announcement from USDA.