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News Release

USDA grants available to spur innovation technologies in Rhode Island

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
401-822-8843, cell 413-835-1276

Conservation Innovation Grants

WARWICK, RI, April 16, 2019 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces up to $125,000 of funding available in Rhode Island for eligible individuals, local and state governments, non-governmental organizations and tribes through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). These grants are intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection.

The deadline to submit an application for CIG is 4:00 pm EDT on June 10, 2019. To apply, visit the 2019 Announcement of Program Funding.

“Conservation Innovation Grants are critical for developing science, technology and innovative tools to address natural resource concerns on Rhode Island’s private working lands,” said R. Phou Vongkhamdy, Rhode Island State Conservationist for NRCS. “These grants help bridge the gap between initial product development and taking that product or approach to market. The overall goal is to incorporate new innovations into NRCS technical manuals and make them available to the agricultural community.”

Projects must be within Rhode Island and in conjunction with agricultural production. They may be area-based or statewide in scope. Applicants submitting proposals may request up to $75,000 of matching federal funds. Applicants must provide at least a 50 percent non-federal match that can be cash, in-kind or a combination of both.

The proposal must involve Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) eligible producers and should demonstrate the use of innovative technologies or approaches to address a natural resource concern in one of the following sub-categories: energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation, water quality or quantity, plant health/vigor, soil quality and wildlife habitat.

These grants do not fund research projects. The program is designed to aid the adoption of measures that have been sufficiently studied to indicate a high likelihood of success.

The Conservation Innovation Grants at the state level build on our national program and enable NRCS to better address natural resource concerns at the local level. This has allowed for great innovation in Rhode Island, where NRCS has invested $500,000 in CIG projects over the past six years.

For example, one Rhode Island CIG project expanded summer cover crops to improve soil and water quality on RI farms by using Japanese millet, teff, and mustard as cover crops can effectively build soil health and meet weed suppression standards in Rhode Island’s climate.  Another project improved habitat for priority species in Rhode Island by providing recommendations for improving the NRCS practice standards and jobsheets for early successional habitat.

To learn more about Conservation Innovations Grants visit the CIG webpage.