Funding priorities for this year’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Classic program include climate-smart agriculture, invasive species mitigation, and urban agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be investing $15 million to address issues of water, air, and soil quality in agricultural production. “The challenges that farmers and ranchers face require innovative solutions to support their continued ability to produce the food and fiber we all depend on,” Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Terry Cosby said in a statement.
Conservation Innovation Grants come in two programs: Classic and On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. The CIG Classic program helps project partners develop new tools and approaches for conservation. New technologies and strategies are meant to support the next generation of conservation efforts in agriculture. Projects are also aimed at developing market-based solutions to address a variety of resource and pest challenges.
“Invasive species are a continual problem, from weeds in cotton in the East to western bark beetles and other pests in the West. Climate change has led to more extreme weather and less available water for agriculture. At the same time, we are seeing opportunities for growth. Urban farming has increased, along with an interest in local foods and resilient food systems,” said Crosby. “We’re eager to help our nation’s farmers and ranchers address these challenges and opportunities, and science and innovation will help get us there.”
Applications for the program are currently being accepted, with a submission deadline of October 11. Eligibility includes agricultural businesses, nongovernmental organizations that work with agricultural producers, and non-federal government agencies. A total of 10 percent of funds that are available will be allocated for projects to benefit historically underserved producers. Those applicants will also have the ability to waive the non-Federal match requirements. Project durations will be between one and three years with a maximum award amount of $2 million being available.