USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Accepting Applications for California Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) – Due May 8, 2020

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is accepting applications for the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program that will provide up to $125,000 of funding to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in California as detailed below.

What is the purpose of CIG? The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) to agricultural producers, into NRCS technical manuals and guides, or to the private sector. CIG generally funds pilot projects, field demonstrations, and on-farm conservation research. On-farm conservation research is defined as an investigation conducted to answer a specific applied conservation question using a statistically valid design while employing farm-scale equipment on farms, ranches or private forest lands.

Who is eligible to apply? All non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply (state and local government entities, tribal entities, non-governmental organizations, individuals). All CIG projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers. Individuals and entities may submit more than one application and may receive more than one award.

What are the funding levels? A total of up to $750,000 in funding will be available for California. The funding floor for a single award is $50,000 and the funding ceiling for a single award is $125,000.

What are eligible projects or activities? CIG funds the development and field testing, on-farm research and demonstration, evaluation, or implementation of:

  • Approaches to incentivizing conservation adoption, including market-based and conservation finance approaches; and
  • Conservation technologies, practices, and systems.

Projects or activities under CIG must comply with all applicable federal, tribal, state, and local laws and regulations throughout the duration of the project; and

  • Use a technology or approach that was studied sufficiently to indicate a high probability for success;
  • Demonstrate, evaluate, and verify the effectiveness, utility, affordability, and usability of natural resource conservation technologies and approaches in the field;
  • Adapt and transfer conservation technologies, management, practices, systems, approaches, and incentive systems to improve performance and encourage adoption;
  • Introduce proven conservation technologies and approaches to a geographic area or agricultural sector where that technology or approach is not currently in use.

Technologies and approaches that are eligible for funding in a project’s geographic area using an EQIP contract for an established conservation practice standard are ineligible for CIG funding, except where the use of those technologies and approaches demonstrates clear innovation.

California proposals must address one or more of the following State priorities: improve plant and forest health/productivity; improve air quality associated with agricultural operations; work with agriculture operations to protect surface and groundwater quality; work with agriculture operations to protect surface and groundwater quantity; improve soil health; and, enhance habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species.

What is the project duration? Projects may be between one and three years in duration.

Is there a cost sharing/matching requirement? CIG recipients must provide a non-federal funding match or cost-share amount at least equal to the amount of federal funding requested. Cost sharing may be achieved with contributions of cash, services, materials, equipment, or third party in-kind contributions.

The full Request for Proposals is here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.

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