Conservation ensures a bright future

USDA Conservation Innovation Grants are a wise investment

From the time the first European settlers made Iowa their home, the state’s rich, productive farmland has been at the heart of the state’s economy.

Iowans have long understood that preserving the state’s soil and water resources is vital if agriculture is to remain a viable pursuit. The Hawkeye State has been a national leader in adopting farming techniques that not only generate crop totals that are the envy of the world, but also make certain it will be possible to do so for many more generations.

Among the many important contributions the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes to rural America is its support for innovative conservation projects. In furtherance of that long-term commitment, the department has just announced that it is seeking new proposals to be funded through its Conservation Innovation Grants program. The USDA plans to invest up to $25 million in projects that “spark the development and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches in areas like conservation finance, data analytics and precision conservation to benefit producers on private agricultural and forest lands.”

“Conservation Innovation Grants have played a critical role in developing and implementing creative new methods to conserve the nation’s private agricultural lands and strengthening rural communities,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, in a statement issued Nov. 3. “(This) announcement builds on our support of technologies and approaches that help producers increase resiliency to extreme weather such as drought and floods.”

Details regarding this grant solicitation are available at www.grants.gov. Proposals are due by Jan. 9, 2017.

The CIG program has an enviable record. Since 2009, USDA has supported 414 GIG projects nationally. So far, $173 million has been invested in this worthy undertaking. This initiative is part of a comprehensive, multifaceted departmental effort to make agriculture successful not only in the years just ahead, but also far into the future. CIG is part of the more than $29 billion USDA has spent since 2009 to help producers make conservation improvements.

Vilsack and other USDA leaders understand that developing innovative conservation endeavors is one of the keys to keeping American agriculture a trendsetter worldwide. The Times-Republican applauds the CIG initiative. It is a program that deserves strong support in Iowa and across all of rural America.