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USDA Announces Funds for Innovative Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will direct up to $235 million to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. Fiscal year 2016 funds are available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), NRCS’ newest conservation tool.

RCPP, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners such as private companies, local governments, universities, nonprofit groups, and other nongovernment partners, as well as farmers and forest landowners to design solutions that work for them. Local partners and the federal government both invest funding and manpower to projects, maximizing impact. 

This will be the second round of projects funded through RCPP. The RCPP
program helps USDA build on already-record enrollment in conservation
programs, with over 500,000 producers participating to protect land and
water on over 400 million acres nationwide.

“This is a new, innovative approach to conservation,” said Vilsack.
“This initiative allows local partners the opportunity to design and
invest in conservation projects specifically tailored for their
communities. These public-private partnerships can have an impact that’s
well beyond what the federal government could accomplish on its own.
These efforts keep our land and water clean, and promote tremendous
economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism, and other
industries.”

In January, USDA announced $394 million in awards for 2015 RCPP applications. For 2016, there will be up to $235 million in RCPP funds nationwide to invest in conservation on private land.

USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP. Preproposals are due July 8.

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