Kentucky's First RCPP Project:
Reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads entering waterways on private lands is the overall goal of this project. Partners invested in improving water quality, especially concerning nutrient loading, include the NRCS in Kentucky, local Kentucky Conservation Districts, the University of Kentucky, Kentucky Division of Conservation, Kentucky Division of Water, Kentucky Dairy Development Council, and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association.
This project will be available to producers throughout Kentucky, but priority will be given to producers nearing regulatory action for water quality violations and/or producers operating in Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)-designated focused watersheds. The $1.5 million in federal dollars will be leveraged for a total of $4.4 million in project dollars to address the overall goal of improving water quality in Kentucky.
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.
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 for RCPP is allocated to projects in three categories:
Critical Conservation Areas
For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding. Learn more.
For projects that are nationwide or multi-state. These receive 40 percent of funding.
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.
- Water Quality
- Soil Erosion
- Soil Health
- Fish and Wildlife Habitat
- Undesirable Plant Productivity and Health (including Forests)
- Inadequate Forage and Water
- Water Quantity
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 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:
- 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
Before closing an agreement, the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects. 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 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.
For more information, see the RCPP Fact Sheet (PDF, 391KB). To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
Find your local USDA Service Center:
Sign up for Farm Bill email updates
Return to NRCS Farm Bill Homepage