February 7, 2014
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the availability of funding (PDF) for FY 2014 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).
The CIG program is a voluntary effort to promote science-based solutions for the benefit of both farmers and the environment. CIG applicants are typically non-governmental organizations, State or local governments, or federally recognized Indian Tribes, though individual farmers and technology transfer specialists are also eligible.
This year’s pre-proposals are due March 7. NRCS will announce selected pre-proposal applications by April 7. Selected applicants must then submit a full proposal package to NRCS by May 5.
NRCS will award up to $15 million in matching grants for selected projects. This means at least 50 percent of the total cost of the CIG project must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.
For details on the requirements for each proposal phase, visit the NRCS website.
NRCS is prioritizing proposals that address select topics, including projects that focus on historically underserved producers (beginning farmers, minorities, tribal producers), energy conservation, nutrient management, soil health, air quality and atmospheric change, wildlife, conservation economics, environmental markets, food safety and conservation co-management, or assessing the impact of past CIG projects.
Below are examples of high priority projects within several of these categories. More information for types of projects that NRCS is prioritizing within each focus area is available on the NRCS website.
Co-Management for Food Safety: Demonstrate and quantify the effects of conservation practices (e.g., buffers) and/or systems of conservation practices for reducing manure-born zoonotic pathogen transport and survival for different climates and agricultural systems.
Soil Health: Demonstrate and quantify impacts of soil health promoting practices (e.g., no-tillage, cover crops, crop rotations) on yield, yield variability, and economics of crop production across a range of soils, cropping systems, and climates. Methodologies for demonstration may include case studies and enterprise budgets.
Wildlife: Develop regional, crop-specific guidance providing the vegetative species, landforms, and necessary acreage to support appropriate populations of managed and wild pollinators per unit area of pollinated crops (e.g., describe the components of the landscape).
Economics and Sociology: Demonstrate the impacts of conservation practices and suites of conservation practices on net revenue, net cost, and yield variability (or other measures of economic risk). Methods to demonstrate these impacts may include both case studies and enterprise budgets
We encourage NSAC member and partner organizations to submit pre-proposals and, where possible, to collaborate in developing multi-group proposals or local partnerships.