USDA awards $18 mil. in Conservation Innovation Grants for 43 states to generate environmental benefits

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Aug. 12 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the winning proposals Thursday for the 2010 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). CIG invests in innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches, with the eventual goal of wide-scale adoption to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and environmental markets, among other natural resource issues.

“Creative solutions that help producers conserve natural resources and reduce costs are an important part of our efforts to improve the quality of our air, water and soil,” Vilsack said. “The Conservation Innovation Grants announced today will produce far-reaching results on a wide range of issues, including conservation management and bio-energy production, by facilitating the development and adoption of new approaches and technologies.”

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG as part of the Agency's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally-recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals.

NRCS received 230 full proposals and awarded nearly $18 million in Conservation Innovation Grants for 61 projects representing 43 states and U.S. territories of the Pacific. Grant recipients provide matching funds, bringing the total value of the approved projects to more than $35 million. In addition to addressing traditional natural resource issues such as water quality, grazing lands, and forest health, projects receiving awards also address emerging natural resource issues, including agricultural air emissions, energy conservation and market-based approaches to conservation.

A summary of all selected proposals awarded a 2010 Conservation Innovation Grant is available at Some examples include:

Arkansas - $60,000 to the East Arkansas Enterprise Community for assistance to beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and limited resource farmers with implementation of best management practices for nutrient control in the Mississippi River Basin.

California$111,692 to Western United Dairymen to support development of a water balance approach for seepage measurements from liquid dairy manure storage ponds.

Colorado$750,000 to the Meridian Institute for a comprehensive standard and national certification program for sustainable production of cellulosic biomass and bio-energy.

Illinois$524,970 to American Farmland Trust to support development of a multi-faceted approach to achieving nutrient reductions in Champaign County.

Maryland - $1 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for a project to reduce soluble phosphorous (P) losses from P-saturated soils on poultry operations.

North Carolina - $659,655 to North Carolina State University for development of a manure belt collection system and energy recovery system.

Texas - $1 million to Genesis Industries LLC for a biomass sustainable energy demonstration project.

Washington - $750,000 to Washington State University for an integrated nutrient recovery, fiber production process, and scrubbing system that works with dairy manure anaerobic digesters.

Wisconsin - $362,233 to Great Lakes Ag Energy, LLC to demonstrate the use of wetlands and algae to complement methane-digester technology in managing dairy farm runoff.

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