USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that proposals for the updated Regional Conservation Partnership Program are due Dec. 3.
RCPP supports partner-driven conservation efforts that will improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. Application information is available on the RCPP web page or on grants.gov.
RCPP-eligible partners include private industry, nongovernment 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 announcement with $300 million available nationwide.
Leveraging NRCS funding is a key principle of RCPP. Partners are expected to make value-added contributions to amplify the effect of federal funding.
The 2018 Farm Bill made substantive changes, making RCPP more straightforward for partners and producers. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduces the number of funding pools to make the submission and approval process easier.
"The new RCPP offers opportunities for partners and NRCS to develop and implement unique conservation solutions that engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners," NRCS Nebraska state conservationist Craig Derickson says. "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 Nebraska and the nation propose to do with these program dollars."
The first iteration of RCPP, which originally was created 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 currently are 375 active RCPP projects that have engaged close to 2,000 partners.
"Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions, offer impactful and measurable outcomes, and are implemented by capable partners," Derickson says. "This will help to conserve farmland, improve water and soil quality, and deliver good food, all while giving local farmers a helping hand."