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News Release

USDA awards new partnership projects in Massachusetts to help mitigate climate change and protect natural resources while supporting farmers

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371


Connecticut River farmland in Massachusetts

AMHERST, Mass., April 27, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is investing $330 million nationwide 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 Massachusetts. 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 Dan Wright, NRCS State Conservationist in Massachusetts. “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.”

In Massachusetts, American Farmland Trust was awarded $7.4 million for The Regenerative Agriculture for Western New England project, which aims to use technical and financial assistance to improve soil health, water quality, and pollinator habitat on 550 livestock farms, complete conservation planning on 25,000 acres of cropland and pasture, and ensure long-term regenerative practice adoption on 15,000 acres.

Project partners estimate that landowner implementation activities will prevent surface water runoff of 2,500 tons of sediment, 12 tons of nitrogen, and four tons of phosphorus, while mitigating about 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). With partner matches and contributions of more than $7.6 million, this project will provide over $15 million in resources and support to livestock farmers in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Additional partners include the University of Connecticut Department of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Vermont Extension, Xerces Society, New England Dairy, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts, and Pete and Gerry’s Organics.

Massachusetts is also a partner state for a New York-based RCPP project. The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance and a group of 10 partners proposed a combination of conservation easements and land management activities to protect species of special concern and reduce non-point source pollution in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. A majority of the $6.2 million in project funding will go toward permanent conservation easements protecting thousands of acres of upland habitat for at-risk species in an area at high risk for farmland loss to development.

Across America, producers are seeing the impacts from climate change. Farmers, landowners and local communities can be a major part of the effort to combat climate change.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments. 

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.

See the interactive map of all awarded RCPP projects nationwide here.

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, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building 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.