The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) applauds USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for supporting organic farmers, grazing lands conservation, and soil health opportunities through the 2018 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Announcement for Program Funding (APF).
USDA announced Monday the availability of $10 million in competitive grants to help enterprising American farmers and ranchers develop pioneering on-farm conservation tools and practices. Of the available $10 million in grant support, 20 percent will be reserved to support projects focused on historically underserved producers.
Comment from Greg Fogel, NSAC Policy Director:
"The selection of Organic Agriculture Systems, Soil Health, and Grazing Lands as the three priority areas for USDA's FY 2018 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) sends a strong signal about where additional investment is needed in the coming years. Conservation agriculture, including organic farming, is an economic driver that provides huge benefits to family farmers while improving natural resources and environmental benefits for the generations to come. It is only by farming with the future at the forefront of our minds that we can deliver to the American people a food and farm system that they can be proud of – one in which family farmers can make an honest living providing safe and abundant food to their neighbors and communities.
With the addition of organic systems as a CIG priority area, USDA is acknowledging the tremendous impact the organic industry has had – and will have – on American agriculture. Combined with the fundamental priorities of soil health and grazing lands – and with much-needed resources directed specifically toward underserved farmers – we expect that the FY 2018 CIG projects will produce groundbreaking, industry-innovating results.
We hope that this acknowledgement by USDA will also send a clear message to Congress about the immense potential to be gleaned from organic and conservation agriculture. Congress has a rare opportunity in the 2018 Farm Bill to set American farmers and ranchers up for a more successful and sustainable future. We hope that they will take this opportunity seriously, and we look forward to working with our 120+ member organizations across the country to ensure that organic and conservation-minded farmers and ranchers are properly recognized in the 2018 Farm Bill."