USDA/NRCS Announces Land Cooperative Agreement for Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Inc.
April 13, 2023 - Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced awards of $12 million in cooperative agreements for 49 projects that expand access to conservation technical assistance for livestock producers and increase the use of conservation practices on grazing lands. The funding is provided through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI).
Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Inc received one of these awards for their efforts to develop Louisiana conservation leaders. Their project seeks to build leaders in conservation through in-depth expert trainings. They plan to expand partnerships and digital resources through outreach and videos, strengthen their relationship with NRCS, allow agents to receive credits in their home state, and remove financial barriers for underserved producers to attend national events.
“In selecting projects for cooperative agreements, NRCS looked for partners with knowledge and expertise in working with livestock producers, advancing climate-smart agriculture, and supporting underserved producers.” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “Privately owned grazing lands cover nearly 30 percent of the national landscape, which means we have a tremendous opportunity to better reach underserved producers while addressing climate change and conserving natural resources through voluntary, private lands conservation.”
Through GLCI, NRCS partners increase availability of technical assistance for farmers and ranchers engaged in grazing activities and act as navigators for grazers seeking additional resources. GLCI also intends to expand and establish new peer-to-peer networks for grazers and direct financial support for grazing mentors working with new, beginning, or transitioning grazers.
Louisiana producers may also benefit from participating in other projects funded through the GLCI. The National Center for Appropriate Technology Inc. received funding for a project that will empower and equip women farmers in the Gulf State Region who are beginning grass-based livestock enterprises. Their project aims to help them expand their knowledge and practice skills in goal setting, soil health, regenerative grazing, animal handling, health, equipment and tools, and direct marketing.
USDA is reviving and revitalizing GLCI to leverage partner capacity, expertise, and technical assistance to expand the footprint of well-managed grazing systems across the country. While some NRCS State Offices have been able to use their annual funds to support similar agreements, this new structure and additional funding provides for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to support grazing systems, reach new and historically underserved producers, and address climate change. Voluntary conservation efforts provide critical support for farmers and ranchers working on grasslands to address climate change and promote good stewardship, wildlife habitat, and healthy soil. These new agreements will expand access to this conservation assistance, including the additional investments made available through the Inflation Reduction Act.
More on GLCI
GLCI was developed as a coordinated effort to identify priority issues, find solutions, and effect change on private grazing land, enhancing existing conservation programs. GLCI also provides support to the National Grazing Lands Coalition to help state grazing coalitions boost participation from historically underserved producers; host a Triennial National Grazing Lands Conference; and to act as navigators for grazers seeking additional resources.
Eligibility for this opportunity was limited to the following entity types based in any of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands):
- Nonprofit organizations having a 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (other than institutions of higher education)
- Farmer or rancher organizations
- State and local conservation governmental agencies
- Agricultural Extension Services
- Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
- Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
- Land grant universities including 1890 or 1994 land grant institution (7 U.S.C. 3222 et seq.), Hispanic-serving institution (20 U.S.C. 1101a), or other minority-serving institution, such as a historically Black college or university (20 U.S.C. 1061), a tribally controlled college or university (25 U.S.C. 1801), or Asian American and Pacific Islander-serving institution (20 U.S.C. 1059g)
Common grazing land conservation practices include Brush Management, Pasture and Hay Planting, Fencing, Prescribed Grazing and Prescribed Burning, among others. Many of these practices are climate-smart, supported by funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that NRCS implements, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for these oversubscribed conservation programs.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.