The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements.
On February 12, 2016, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the 2016 projects approved for funding. USDA will invest up to $220 million in 84 partner-led projects to help communities improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. This is the second round of projects funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Read news release.
- Everglades Headwaters Longleaf Pine, $3.7 million (Critical Conservation Area)
Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy – Florida, Number of Partners: 5
- Training Florida's Natural Resource Managers, $1 million (State)
Lead Partner: Florida Forest Service, Number of Partners: 4
- Working Lands for Florida Panther Conservation, $630,000 (State)
Lead Partner: Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Number of Partners: 8
Projects approved in FY 2014-2015
RCPP encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.
Through RCPP, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas. Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved. The Secretary of Agriculture may also designate up to eight critical conservation areas to focus assistance.
Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.
Critical Conservation Areas
For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding. Learn more.
For nationwide and multi-state projects. These receive 40 percent of funding. Learn more.
For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding. Learn more.
Conservation program contracts and easement agreements are implemented through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). NRCS may also use the authorities under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program.
- Inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife,
- Plant and animal health (degraded plant condition & livestock production limitation),
- Insufficient water (surface and ground water quantities),
- Soil health (erosion & quality),
- Walter quality degradation
Critical Conservation Area
In Florida it is the Longleaf Pine Range.
Eligible Partners - Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, farmer cooperatives or other groups of producers, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, municipal water treatment entities, water and irrigation districts, conservation-driven nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher education.
Eligible Participants - Under RCPP, eligible producers and landowners of agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland may enter into conservation program contracts or easement agreements under the framework of a partnership agreement. RCPP assistance is also available independent of a partner if the land is located either in a partner project area or in a critical conservation area designated by the Secretary.
How to Apply
NRCS will release an announcement for program funding that will outline requirements for proposal submissions for funding. NRCS will review partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and make project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner will enter into an agreement through which they will coordinate to provide producers in the project area assistance. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years. NRCS may extend an agreement one time for an additional 12 months if needed to meet the objectives of the program.
Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in several ways:
- At the producer's request, a partner may submit the application for participation in a selected project area.
- Directly at their local USDA Service Center in a selected project area.
The partnership agreement defines the scope of the project, including:
- Eligible activities to be implemented.
- Potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operation affected.
- Local, state, multi-state or other geographic area covered.
- Planning, outreach, implementation and assessment. Partners are responsible for contributing to the cost of the project, conducting outreach and education to eligible producers for potential participation in the project and for conducting an assessment of the project’s effects. In addition, partners may act on behalf of the eligible landowner or producer in applying for assistance and for leveraging financial or technical assistance provided by NRCS with additional funds to help achieve the project objectives.
Before closing the agreement the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects.
RCPP Fact Sheet (PDF, 391KB)
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted
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