USDA Under-Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey last week announced the award of nearly $20 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to 36 states to fund 51 projects designed to develop and refine cutting-edge technologies and approaches that can help farmers maintain viable agricultural operations.
Iowa will be the lead state in four projects awarded these grants. These include: the Iowa Soybean Association's: Nitrogen Efficiency Project ($750,000), Midwest Forestry and Biofuels': Utilization of Maclura pomifera as an Agroforestry Species for Energy Production, Carbon Sequestration, and Bioproduct Development ($325,450), the United Egg Producers': Feeding and Altering Diets for Egg Laying Hens ($812,998) and Iowa State University's: Stewardship in the Bioeconomy: An Iowa Market-Based Model ($500,000).
Three other approved projects list Iowa as a participating state. These include: AP-Garm SC, LLC AgRefresh's: The Biofuels Acceleration Project -Using Voluntary Markets for the sale of Biofuel-Sourced Projects "Credits" to Accelerate the Production of "High-Benefit" Liquid Biofuels ($622,500), Michigan State University's: Development of a National Air Quality Self-Assessment Tool ($443,410) and the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System's: Energy*A*Syst Comp Farmstead Energy Self Assessment Tool Kit: Continuation and Expansion ($750,000). A chart with a list of FY 2007 CIG projects can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/2007awards.html.
Conservation Innovation Grants fund pilot projects and conservation field trials that can last from one to three years. The total value of the approved projects is about $45 million after the grantees match of at least 50%. Grants for approved projects cannot exceed 50% of the total project cost and the federal contribution for a single project cannot exceed $1 million.
As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the Conservation Innovation Grants. The program provides the competitive grants to state and local governments, tribes, nongovernment organizations and individuals to promote development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applicants from 47 states submitted 171 conservation grant project proposals and requested grants totaling about $61.7 million. Projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers.
Approved projects address natural resource issues concerning ag such as water quantity, water quality improvement, livestock nutrient management, grazing lands and forest health, and soil resource management. Approved projects also address emerging natural resource issues including agricultural air emissions, energy conservation and market-based approaches to conservation.
Additional information about the grants, including summaries of approved projects, is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig.