USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available through NRCS’ innovative Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and applicants must be able to match the federal award with private or local funds.
Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led projects, including six projects in Indiana. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profits and other non-government partners to work with farmers and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that work best for their region. This will be the third round of funding through RCPP, helping NRCS build on record enrollment in all voluntary conservation programs, with more than 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.
Across Indiana, locally-driven efforts are having a positive effect on conservation and production. RCPP serves as a valuable vehicle for matching federal investment and private capital to advance natural resource conservation and support agricultural production.
“We recognize the growing interest in leveraging private capital markets to foster impact investments in conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry,” said Jane Hardisty, NRCS state conservationist in Indiana. “For this new round, we hope to see even more applications that support the development of environmental markets and conservation finance projects.”
The RCPP has three funding pools:
Critical Conservation Area - 35 percent of total program funding is directed to critical conservation areas, selected by the Secretary of Agriculture. Parts of Indiana are included in the Great Lakes Region and the Mississippi River Basin;
Regional or Multi-State - 40 percent is directed to regional or multi-state projects through a national competitive process;
State Level - 25 percent directed to state-level projects through a competitive process established by state conservation leaders.
NRCS is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2017 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due May 10. An informational meeting on the RCPP sign up will be held at the Indiana NRCS State Office (6013 Lakeside Boulevard, Indianapolis) on Thursday April 7 from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Topics of discussion will include a program overview, application for funding, data entry sheet and a question and answer session. Anyone interested in submitting or partnering on a 2017 RCPP project proposal is encouraged to attend. A call in number is available for those not able to attend in person. Please contact Jill Reinhart, Indiana NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships, for call-in number and presentation information.
For more information on applying, visit the RCPP website at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/farmbill/rcpp/. Proposals in Indiana must include one of the state’s top priorities: water quality, soil quality or at-risk species habitat. You can also visit www.grants.gov and search for “RCPP.”
For more state-specific information on RCPP, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/farmbill/rcpp/.
To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.