NRCS Partners on $3.9 Million in Grants for Conservation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 21, 2021) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $3.9 million in new grants to help agricultural producers implement voluntary conservation practices on farms and ranches across the United States. Awarded under NFWF’s Conservation Partners Program, the grants will generate $5.1 million in matching contributions to achieve a total conservation impact of $9 million.

NFWF manages the Conservation Partners Program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and General Mills, with additional funding from Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business at Land O’Lakes, Inc. The program supports efforts to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices and regenerative agriculture principles on private working lands. Grant recipients provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them develop management plans, design and implement best practices, participate in Farm Bill programs, and share their experiences and lessons learned. This work enhances wildlife habitat, soil health, water quality and carbon storage while providing important social and economic benefits to agricultural producers.

“From riparian buffer enhancement in the East, to improved soil health in the Midwest, to water conservation along the West Coast, the grants announced today will have an impact across the nation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “This new support will help farmers and ranchers improve their operations in ways that make economic sense while at the same time addressing some of the nation’s most-pressing environmental challenges.”

The 21 grants announced today span several landscapes across the United States. For example, funded projects will address important needs for the Upper Mississippi River basin, Pacific salmon and western water conservation, and several priorities under the NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife program. In addition, with new funding support from General Mills in 2021, this year the Conservation Partners Program added a focus in the Southern Great Plains, a landscape that includes all or some of eight states in the south-central United States. 

Emphasizing a systems-approach that integrates regenerative agriculture principles, the six projects funded in this landscape will improve management of 267,000 acres of cropland and ranchland, enhancing soil productivity and strengthening ecosystem health while fostering peer-to-peer learning.  

“We’re proud to partner with NFWF to scale regenerative agriculture approaches on farmland across the U.S.,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and global impact officer, General Mills. “With the latest round of funding, more than 30,000 farmers and ranchers will receive support, impacting more than 400,000 acres of farmland. This work is expansive and has great opportunity to positively impact the future health of our planet and communities.” 

The new grant funding will help provide agricultural producers with the technical assistance needed to plan and implement a range of conservation practices, such as cover crops, crop rotation, conservation tillage, on-farm riparian buffer and wetland enhancement, irrigation improvement, grazing management, and prescribed burning. Collectively, the 21 funded projects will:

  • Improve management and conservation on 416,000 acres of farmland and ranchland
  • Provide technical assistance to more than 30,000 agricultural producers
  • Reduce nutrient and sediment runoff to local waterways by 700,000 pounds per year
  • Develop and implement more than 400 working lands management plans 

“As part of the Conservation Partners Program, these latest grants will help producers implement important conservation practices on farms and ranches across the country,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “These practices not only enhance natural resources like wildlife, water quality, and soil health, but also can improve productivity and save producers money and time in the long run.”

Since 2011, the Conservation Partners Program has awarded 232 grants worth more than $44 million and leveraged an additional $82 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $126 million. A complete list of the 2021 grants announced today through the Conservation Partners Program is available here.