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News Release

USDA Investing $197 Million in Partner-Driven, Locally led Conservation

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is awarding $197 million for 41 locally led conservation projects through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP is a partner-driven program that leverages partner resources to advance innovative projects that address climate change, enhance water quality, and address other critical challenges on agricultural land.

“Our partners are experts in their fields and understand the challenges in their own backyards,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Through RCPP we can tap into that knowledge, in partnership with producers and USDA, to come up with lasting solutions to the challenges that farmers, ranchers, and landowners face. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of public-private partnership at its best, made possible through these RCPP investments.”

The projects funded today are awarded under two different RCPP funding opportunities: RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, partners have more flexibility in working directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic.

USDA is awarding Washington $7.2 million for the following two locally led conservation projects through RCPP.

  • Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program | Awarded $6,000,000
    Grant County Conservation District and seven contributing partners plan to help agricultural producers replace groundwater irrigation systems with Columbia River surface water for 11,180 acres of high-value irrigated farmland that currently relies on the rapidly declining Odessa Subarea Aquifer. The partnership plans to work with up to 13 farms and ultimately leave over 33,000 acre-feet of water in the aquifer each year. Groundwater replacement will provide benefits to the local and regional economy, improving water quality and quantity for municipalities, strengthening the agricultural industry to be more climate resilient, and encouraging local job growth.
  • Whatcom County Conservation Easement Program | Awarded $1,175,325
    The Whatcom County Conservation Easement Program’s (CEP) purpose is to permanently preserve farm and forest land to maintain economically viable natural resource industries in northwest Washington. Many of the working lands targeted by this project are zoned for rural development, placing increasing threats to our agricultural and forest industries. The project leverages existing farm and forest land preservation programs. The partnership plans to use part of the RCPP funding to engage limited resource producers as beneficiaries of buy-protect-sell easement transactions.

See the list of 2022 RCPP projects here or view the interactive map.

As part of each project, partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding in an amount equal to or greater than the NRCS investment.

Private landowners can apply to participate in an RCPP project in their region through awarded partners or at their local USDA service center.

More Information
First authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, 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. Since inception, RCPP has made 589 awards involving over 3,000 partner organizations. Currently there are 401 active projects, with at least one active project in every state and area. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions and offer impactful and measurable outcomes.

For more information about RCPP, visit the NRCS website.

RCPP is part of NRCS’ broader effort to engage partners. For example, NRCS recently announced it will invest $35 million this year through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Through CIG, grantees work to address our nation's water quality, water quantity, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while supporting agricultural production.

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 safe, 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.