The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land.
$1.7 Billion in Investments in Climate-Smart Agriculture: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing nearly $1.7 billion in funding to support the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices, which have direct climate mitigation benefits, advance a host of other environmental co-benefits, and offer farmers, ranchers and foresters new revenue streams.
This includes an unprecedented $1.1 billion investment across 81 projects through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which takes a voluntary approach to expand the reach of conservation efforts and climate-smart agriculture through public-private partnerships.
For the full project list, visit RCPP 2023 Awarded Projects.
Today’s announcement also includes:
- $100 million through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP);
- $250 million through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP); and
- $250 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Find more information at this Fact Sheet.
This announcement is part of over $5 billion announced by President Biden to support rural communities during the Investing in Rural America event series. Learn more here.
By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.
RCPP projects fall under two different categories: RCPP Classic and RCPP Grants. RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP Grants, the lead partner must work directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic.
2023 Awarded Projects
Successful RCPP projects embody the following core principles:
1. Impact—RCPP applications must propose effective and compelling solutions that address one or more natural resource priorities to help solve natural resource challenges. Partners are responsible for evaluating a project’s impact and results.
2. Partner Contributions—Partners are responsible for identifying any combination of cash and in-kind value-added contributions to leverage NRCS’s RCPP investments. It is NRCS’s goal that partner contributions at least equal the NRCS investment in an RCPP project. Substantive partner contributions are given priority consideration as part of the RCPP application evaluation criteria.
3. Partnerships and Management—Partners must have experience, expertise, and capacity to manage the partnership and project, provide outreach to producers, and quantify the environmental outcomes of an RCPP project. RCPP ranking criteria give preference to applicants that meaningfully engage historically underserved farmers and ranchers.
RCPP Conservation Activities
RCPP projects may include a range of on-the-ground conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. These activities include:
- Land management/land improvement/restoration practices
- Land rentals
- Entity-held easements
- United States-held easements
- Public works/watersheds
A single RCPP project application can propose to employ any combination of these eligible activity types as part of an RCPP project.
For more information on RCPP easements, visit the RCPP easement page.
RCPP Funding Pools
RCPP funding is divided evenly among two funding pools:
Critical Conservation Areas
For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by the Secretary of Agriculture. These receive 50 percent of funding. Learn more about RCPP Critical Conservation Areas.
For projects in a single state or across several states. These receive 50 percent of funding.
Who is Eligible
Eligible organizations interested in partnering with NRCS on conservation projects can develop applications for the RCPP competition. The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits an application, and if selected for an award is ultimately responsible for collaborating with NRCS to successfully complete an RCPP project.
See the RCPP funding announcement for details about what types of organizations are eligible to apply.
Producer and Landowner Eligibility
Once NRCS selects a project and executes an RCPP agreement with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a willing partner to act as their representative in working with NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to NRCS.
RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities).
Eligible conservation activities may be implemented on public lands when those activities will benefit eligible lands as determined by NRCS and are included in the scope of an approved RCPP project.
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.