Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals.
CIG enables NRCS to work with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. CIG will benefit agricultural producers by providing more options for environmental enhancement and compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations. NRCS administers CIG.
Applications for national CIG projects were due by May 10, 2016. This year’s application process includes two other significant changes: an increase in the maximum award amount to $2 million, up from $1 million in 2015, and a streamlined single proposal process, Sullivan said.
In 2016, USDA is seeking national CIG applications for innovative conservation projects to benefit historically underserved agricultural producers, improve and protect water quality, and demonstrate the effectiveness of public private partnerships for conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry.
Up to $2 million of this fiscal year’s national CIG funding has been set aside for projects targeted to historically underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and those with limited resources.
USDA is also seeking national CIG proposals for projects to stimulate natural resource solutions to protect or improve the quality of ground and surface water.
CIG awards are made through a nationally competitive process. Projects may be single or multi-year, but cannot exceed three years. Projects must involve EQIP-eligible agricultural producers or landowners. At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including in-kind contributions.