Nearly $20 million in new USDA Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) will develop and refine cutting-edge technologies and approaches to help producers maintain viable agricultural operations. There are 66 projects in 38 states.

These projects address traditional natural resource issues concerning agriculture such as water quantity and quality, livestock nutrient management, grazing lands and forest health and soil resource management. They may also address new natural resource issues including agricultural air emissions, energy conservation and market-based approaches to conservation.


CIG funds pilot projects and conservation field trials lasting from one to three years. The total value of the approved projects exceeds $48 million after the grantees match at least 50%. Grants for approved projects cannot exceed 50% of the total project cost. The federal contribution for a single project cannot exceed $1 million.

As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers CIG, which provides competitive grants to state and local governments, tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals to promote the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applicants from 45 states submitted 180 project proposals and requested about $63 million. Projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers.

This fiscal year's grantees include 3 resource conservation and development councils, 7 conservation districts, 4 state and local governments, 13 non-governmental organizations, 22 colleges and universities, 2 tribes, 12 business entities and 3 individuals.

USDA allocated $4.1 million to address natural resource concerns in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This 64,000 square-mile watershed covers parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. These states will use the funding to carry out diverse projects to address water quality and other priority natural resource concerns.

As part of its outreach efforts, USDA will fund 6 proposals valued at $1.6 million to help tribes and limited resource producers in 11 states to address natural resource issues as well as energy efficiency and market-based approaches.

Additional information about CIG, including summaries of approved projects, is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig. A chart for a state listing of CIG projects (pdf) can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/2006awards.html