May 21, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced the availability of $15 million for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. This is in addition to the $25 million announced in March for on-farm trials. This funding announcement is the traditional CIG option that has been offered in the past and is referred to as “Classic CIG.”
The deadline to apply for fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for Classic CIG is June 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST.
What is CIG?
Part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the CIG program is administered by NRCS and provides grant funding for the development, application, and demonstration of innovative conservation technologies and approaches. Through CIG, public and private grantees work to develop the tools, technologies, and strategies to support future conservation efforts on working lands as well as develop market-based solutions to resource challenges.
CIG projects are a critical tool in the effort to transfer innovative conservation management systems, approaches, and technologies to farmers and ranchers. CIGs also help to share conservation research, findings, and best practices with NRCS (for use in technical manuals and guides), as well as the private sector.
CIGs bring a wide range of partners to the table to support innovation – state, local, and tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals are all eligible to apply. Grantees must match 100 percent of the funds provided by the CIG award through non-federal contributions, which can be either in-kind or cash contributions. Grantees are also responsible for providing the necessary technical assistance; NRCS provides technical oversight for the project.
FY 2020 CIG Priorities
Each year, NRCS identifies priority categories within CIG that can advance new or emerging high priority natural resource issues. This year’s announcement for Classic CIG included five priority areas: water quality, water reuse, wildlife, air quality, and energy conservation.
The full funding announcement is available online through grants.gov and includes the details of each priority listed above.
Awards and Eligibility
Awards for national projects can range between $150,000 and $2 million. State, local, and tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals are all eligible to apply for CIGs. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded eligibility to also allow community colleges that are carrying out demonstration projects on the college’s land to apply.
All Grantees must match 100 percent of the funds provided by the CIG award through non-federal in-kind or cash contributions, and are also responsible for providing the necessary technical assistance; NRCS provides technical oversight for the project. All proposed conservation approaches or technologies of the CIG application must involve EQIP-eligible farmers or ranchers.
How to Apply
The application deadline for FY 2019 Classic CIG funds is June 29, 2020, 11:59 pm EST. Applications can be submitted through www.grants.gov. You can also learn about the CIG program through the NRCS website, and via NSAC’s Grassroots Guide.