USDA to Invest up to $300 Million in Partner-Driven Conservation
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today the launch of the updated Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Potential partners are encouraged to submit proposals that will improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.
RCPP eligible partners include private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts and universities. Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Leveraging of this NRCS funding is a key principle of RCPP; partners are expected to make value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding.
“The new RCPP offers opportunities for partners and NRCS to develop and implement unique conservation solutions that engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “A single RCPP project can include just about any Farm Bill conservation activity that NRCS is authorized to carry out. We’re really looking forward to what our partners across the Nation propose to do with these new flexibilities.”
The first iteration of RCPP, which was created originally by the 2014 Farm Bill, combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the Nation. There are currently 375 active RCPP projects that have engaged close to 2,000 partners. The 2018 Farm Bill made substantive changes to the program to make it more straightforward for partners and producers. Previously, in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP derived much of its funding from other NRCS conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). RCPP is now a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding, simplifying rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduces the number of funding pools to make the submission and approval process easier.
USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP. Proposals are due December 3, 2019. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP webpage or view the Application for Program funding on grants.gov.