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News Release

USDA Awards New Partnership Projects in Georgia to Help Mitigate Climate Change and Protect Natural Resources while Supporting America’s Producers

Contact:
Chris Groskreutz
(706) 546-2069


Release No.: 015.21

Printable Version

ATHENS, GEORGIA, April 26, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including two projects in Georgia. Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said Terrance O. Rudolph, NRCS state conservationist in Georgia. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

The RCPP projects in Georgia include:

  • The Working Farms Fund (Georgia): The Conservation Fund, in collaboration with six local partners, proposes to establish the first-of-its-kind program in the country, known as the Working Farms Fund. The project, based on results from a successful Conservation Innovation Grant, will permanently protect farmland across the Atlanta metropolitan foodshed and create opportunities for ambitious, diverse farmers to access affordable farms through an innovative buy-protect-sell model. Partners, like Emory University and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center will help report on the carbon sequestration, social and economic outcomes of the project. The partnership is committed to ensuring that at least 20% of its participating farmers come from historically underserved groups.
  • The Georgia Gopher Tortoise Initiative: The US Endowment for Forestry and Communities and partners will offer conservation easements and habitat restoration and maintenance activities on private forest land to protect Gopher Tortoise populations living in longleaf pine ecosystems in Georgia. The project is designed to help prevent a Threatened or Endangered listing of the gopher tortoise under the Endangered Species Act. Between RCPP and partner contribution investments, an estimated 8,000 acres of private and public lands will benefit from land management activities. This project builds on the existing Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative established in 2015.

See the interactive map of awarded RCPP projects here to learn about new projects in other states.

About RCPP

Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience. 

RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. The Department anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.

There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, and fairer markets for all producers. This ensures  access to healthy and nutritious food for all communities, builds new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

While USDA offices are closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. To conduct business, please contact your local USDA Service Center. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus

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