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 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 multistate projects. These receive 40 percent of funding. Learn more.
For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding. Learn more at Colorado River Basin and Prairie Grasslands Region.
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.
How to Submit a RCPP Proposal
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.
When to Submit a Proposal
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. An announcement for FY 2016 program funding has not been released.
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.
Before closing the agreement the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects.
The RCPP in New Mexico
Approved RCPP Projects in New Mexico for FY 2015
Submitting a Proposal
Organizations, groups, units of local, state and Tribal governments, etc. interested in submitting a proposal need to follow the guidelines under the ‘How to Submit a RCPP Proposal’ section above.
New Mexico’s Resource Concerns Priorities are:
- Plant Degradation
- Water Quantity
- Water Quality Degradation
- Soil Erosion
- Soil Quality
- Air Quality
Applying for a Contract
General Application Information and Procedure
Applications for the EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the year and are open to all eligible agricultural producers. There is usually just one application deadline date each year in New Mexico, but that is subject to change and would be announced on this web site. A deadline date has not yet been established for RCPP applications.
Applying for assistance, application evaluation and plan/contract development can be a lengthy process requiring several weeks to several months. It is important to keep in mind that any work begun or completed on the land offered for a contract before a fully approved contract is executed is not eligible for financial assistance, unless an approved waiver is secured in advance.
Under the 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.
How and Where to Apply
Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in several ways:
Applicants may complete and submit the NRCS-CPA-1200 to their local NRCS Field Office, in person, by fax, by regular mail or by email. Please click on NRCS Field Offices for the location of the office nearest you.
The application form is the NRCS-CPA-1200. The NRCS-CPA-1202-CPC appendix provides the terms and conditions of an EQIP contract. Applicants are strongly encouraged to thoroughly review both documents before application. The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.
NRCS application forms can also be found on the USDA Service Center EForms Web Site.
Application Evaluation and Selection
EQIP applications are evaluated and ranked for available funding based on local state and national program priorities. Information obtained by the Field Office about the applicants agricultural operations through existing information, on-site visits, and/or personal communications and what the applicant would like to accomplish through an EQIP contact are applied to a ranking criteria tool. This results in a numerical score. Applicants compete for available EQIP funds within a specific fund account, such as irrigated crop or grazed range or forested land, etc. The ranking criteria may be slightly different from one Field Office area to another. Ranking tools for the RCPP projects are currently under development.
Producer and Land Eligibility Requirements (7 CFR Part 1466.6)
Program participation is voluntary. An applicant must develop and EQIP plan of operations for the eligible land to be treated that serves as the basis for the EQIP contract. Under EQIP, NRCS provides its participants with technical assistance and payments to plan and apply needed conservation practices.
To be eligible to participate in EQIP an application must:
- Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions found at part 12 of this title;
- Must be a producer as determined by NRCS;
- Have control of the land for the term of the proposed contract unless an exception is made by the Chief in the case of land administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Indian Lands, or other instances in which the Chief determines that there is sufficient assurance of control;
- The Chief may determine the that land administered by BIA, Indian Land, or other such circumstances provides sufficient assurance of control, and
- If the applicant is a tenant of the land involved in agricultural production or forestry management, the applicant will provide the Chief with the written concurrence of the landowner in order to apply a structural practice’
- Agree to implement the EQIP plan of operations according to the provisions and conditions established in the EQIP contract, including the EQIP contract appendix;
- Submit and EQIP plan of operations or plan developed for the purposes of acquiring an air or water quality permit, provided these plans contain elements equivalent to those elements required by an EQIP plan of operations and are acceptable to NRCS as being consistent with the purposes of the program;
- Supply information, as required by NRCS, to determine eligibility for the program, including but not limited to, information to verify the applicant’s status as a limited resource beginning farmer or rancher, and payment eligibility (average adjusted gross income) as established by 7 CFR part 1400;
- Comply with applicable registration and reporting requirements of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-282, as amended), and 2 CFR parts 25 and 170; and
- Provide a list of all member of the legal entity and embedded entities along with members’ tax identifications numbers and percentage interest in the entity.
Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, rangeland, pasture, NIPF, and other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced and resource concerns may be addressed. Other agricultural lands include cropped woodland, marshes, incidental areas included in the agricultural operation, and other types of agricultural land used for production of livestock. However, land may be considered for enrollment in EQIP only if NRCS determines that the land is:
- Privately owned land; or
- Publicity owned land where:
- The land is a working component of the participant’s agricultural and forestry operations.
- The participant has control of the land for the term of the contract, and
- The conservation practices to be implemented on the public land are necessary and will contribute to an improvement in the identified resource concern; or
- Indian Land.
An RCPP participants responsibilities are considerable. The best place to learn about these responsibilities is to thoroughly review the NRCS-CPS-1200 application form and the NRCS-CPA-1202-CPC appendix which sets forth the terms and conditions of the contract. NRCS Field Office staff will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
RCPP Fact Sheet (PDF, 391KB)
Kristin Graham Chavez
EQIP/RCPP Program Manager
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