Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday approved about $7.4 million to fund nine large-scale greenhouse gas mitigation projects in 24 states through USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).

"We want to help farmers and ranchers make important and innovative contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Vilsack. "These grants are designed to test and verify exciting new approaches to greenhouse gas reduction that other conservation-minded producers will want to put to work on their operations."

In addition to the $7.4 million, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which administers CIG, will provide $10 million through its regular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to eligible producers to implement conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

NRCS received 43 CIG proposals from 28 states. Grant recipients are required to provide matching funds – both cash and in-kind services.

CIG, a component of EQIP, stimulates development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. NRCS uses CIG to invest in innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches with the goal of wide-scale adoption to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and environmental markets, among other natural resource issues. Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally-recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals.

The selected proposals:

Adaptation of a Forest Carbon Protocol to Include Tribal Lands (Washington) – $1.226 million to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation to adapt and implement forest carbon sequestering practices and to develop protocols that overcome the legal and technical barriers faced by tribes in entering carbon-credit trading markets.

Agricultural Soil Carbon: Developing a Large-scale Agricultural Soil Carbon Transaction in the Palouse Region (Idaho, Oregon, Washington) – $550,000 to Applied Ecological Services, Inc. to work with landowners to provide a road map for monetizing or determining a value for carbon credits arising from soil carbon-enhancing conservation practices such as no-till and crop rotation on 1 million acres across the Palouse region.

Bringing Greenhouse Gas Benefits to Market: Nutrient Management for Nitrous Oxide Reductions (Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma) – $400,000 to the Delta Institute and its partners to create a system that allows producers to earn greenhouse gas credits for their nutrient management and conservation practices on at least 60,000 acres.

Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit (California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin) – $1.102 million to the Dairy Science Institute, Inc. to work with dairy farmers across 12 states to develop a decision- support tool that helps those farmers enhance their conservation efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Demonstrating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in California and Midsouth Rice Production (Arkansas, California) – $1.089 million to the Environmental Defense Fund to develop and implement a first-of-its-kind initiative to demonstrate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in rice production.

Ducks Unlimited Avoided Grassland Conversion Carbon Project (North Dakota, South Dakota) – $161,000 to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to develop tools for grassland producers to help them monetize or determine a value for the carbon-storage benefit of retaining rangeland that may otherwise be converted to cropland on 10,000 acres in North Dakota and 15,000 acres in South Dakota.

Estimating Nitrous Oxide Reductions from Nutrient Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (Maryland, Virginia) – $455,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to develop a tool for estimating nitrous oxide reduction from nutrient management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to reduce technological and financial barriers to certifying carbon offset credits generated by nutrient management.

Piloting Innovative Beef and Dairy Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategies in U.S. Feedlots and Dairies (Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin) – $1.056 million to Unison Resource Co. to pilot test methodologies that qualify carbon offsets and that stimulate feed-use efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, monetize carbon credits and enhance economic viability in the beef and dairy industries.

Smart Nitrogen Application Program Demonstration Program Project (Iowa, Illinois) – $1.429 million with The Fertilizer Institute to develop a framework for delivering marketable carbon credits associated with nitrous-oxide emission reduction when producers implement nutrient stewardship management practices on approximately 50,000 acres.

For more information about USDA's CIG, visit