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2014 Farm Bill | Regional Conservation Partnership Program

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 RCPP on the NRCS National website

RCPP in Vermont

Program Overview

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements.

RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.

Benefits

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 RCPP assistance.

Funding

Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.

Thumbnail of map outlining CCA areas Thumbnail of map of US salmon-colored placeholder map

Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding. Learn more.

National

For nationwide and multistate projects. These receive 40 percent of funding. Learn more.

State

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 utilize the authorities under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, other than the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, in the designated critical conservation areas.

Vermont Priorities

Vermont priorities for RCPP funding are:

  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality
  • Water Quality Degradation
  • Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife

Eligibility

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. 

Vermont RCPP Projects-Selected 2015

State Project

Project Name: Nutrient Management Planning Training Program for Farmers and Conservation Practice Implementation Follow-up.

Lead Partner: Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD)

Funding Amount: $800,000

VACD-RCPP Project Fact Sheet

Overview: The Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) in partnership with the fourteen Natural Resource Conservation Districts, University of Vermont Extension and VT NRCS will assist small farm operators in the development of nutrient management plans (NMPs). The purpose of this program is to improve water quality by reducing phosphorus and other nutrient loading from small livestock farm operations in the Lake Champlain Basin and beyond. The program will be supported through an agreement with NRCS, as well as through partner contributions provided by VACD, UVM Extension and Conservation Districts. The primary deliverable of this program is 40 nutrient management plans certified to NRCS standards per year.

National Projects

1. Project Name: Accelerated Implementation of Agricultural and Forestry Conservation Practices in the Lake Champlain Watershed of Vermont and New York.

Project Overview: The project will provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forest landowners over the next five years, to help with development and implementation of site-specific farm and forest projects that will directly improve water quality in streams and rivers that flow towards Lake Champlain. RCPP funds will also help conserve important and environmentally critical agricultural lands, and restore and protect wetlands that are crucial to absorbing runoff and slowing floodwaters.

2. Project Name: Long Island Sound Watershed-Development of whole-farm management certainty program

Project Overview: This project will address excess nutrients that have been identified as the primary cause of hypoxic conditions in Long Island Sound (impacting upland water resources within the watershed including areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont). The project which will develop a comprehensive, whole-farm management certainty program for farmers in the area. The project will utilize both working lands and easement programs to improve soil health and nutrient management, establish community resiliency areas with a focus on enhancing riparian areas, and institute a land protection program to protect agricultural and forestry areas.

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 a partnership 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:
  1. At the producer's request, a partner may submit the application for participation in a selected project area
  2. Directly at their local USDA Service Center in a selected project area

Partnership Agreements

The partnership agreement defines the scope of the project, including:

  1. Eligible activities to be implemented
  2. Potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operation affected
  3. Local, state, multi-state or other geographic area covered
  4. Planning, outreach, implementation, and assessment to be conducted. 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.

Download materials pertaining to RCPP in Vermont:

RCPP Vermont Presentation

NRCS Planning to Contract Example

One-page Resource: VT RCPP

NRCS RCPP Fact Sheet

Click here to download an informative graphic poster on RCPP

RCPP Infographic Poster

 

 

 

 

 

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