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News Release

USDA Invests in 22 New Projects to Spur Innovation

Lori Ziehr, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(254) 742-9881

Grazing Lands, Organic Systems and Soil Health

Temple, Texas, Aug. 13, 2018 - USDA will invest more than $10.6 million for 22 new projects that will drive public and private sector innovation in conserving natural resources in 27 states, including Texas. The competitive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program helps spur development and adoption of new conservation approaches and technologies.

“Through USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants, we are able to bring together a wide array of groups to drive innovation and spur cutting-edge projects here in Texas,” said Salvador Salinas, state conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “This year’s applicants resulted in an impressive array of proposals that will ultimately benefit Texas’s people who grow our food and fiber.”

NRCS funds Conservation Innovation Grants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The maximum grant is $2 million per project and projects can take up to three years. These projects are designed to engage eligible producers in conservation activities that accelerate the transfer and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches.

Projects focus on this year’s priority areas: grazing lands, organic agriculture systems and soil health. Texas A&M AgriLife Research was awarded $1,090,562 to “Improve Outreach to Improve Soils: Combining Data, Economics, and Communication to Improve Soil Health Across the South Central United States.” The CIG proposes to increase adoption of soil health management practices across the South-Central U.S. through improved communication of the soil and production benefits of an innovative double-cropping system. The project’s holistic approach addresses most of the obstacles a producer may face when implementing a soil health management system. Project deliverables include soil property and crop production data, detailed economic analyses, and communication messages and modules.

Through this grant program, public and private grantees — including non-governmental organizations, American Indian tribes, academic institutions and local government entities — leverage the federal investment by providing a match or cost share that is at least equal to the amount of federal funding requested. This year’s grants bring the total USDA investment to more than $297 million for 732 projects since 2004. View the full list of this year’s projects.

All interested and eligible producers in the focal counties are encouraged to apply. For more information visit, contact a local USDA service center or visit