Indianapolis, IN, March 16, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking proposals to fund up to $75 million in new, unique projects under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program’s (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) that take innovative and non-traditional approaches to conservation solutions at the local, regional and landscape scales. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will prioritize projects related to climate smart agriculture and forestry.
NRCS will fund up to 15 projects this year through RCPP-AFA, where 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 effectively implemented through the classic RCPP.
“Collaboration and partnership are leading to advanced conservation delivery on working lands, both rural and urban,” said Terry Cosby, Acting Chief of NRCS. “We want to continue funding projects that harness the power of partnership and innovation to develop solutions that benefit producers while conserving our natural resources.”
A significant portion of funds will address projects related to climate smart agriculture and forestry. These include projects related to carbon markets and new technologies. Meanwhile NRCS also strongly encourages proposals from RCPP projects that address the conservation needs of urban farmers in metropolitan areas, supporting access to healthy fresh food in historically underserved populated communities.
NRCS will execute RCPP-AFAs through agreements with eligible lead partners who will be responsible for contracting directly with eligible producers and landowners to implement conservation activities on the ground.
RCPP-AFA projects were initially authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, while the 2018 Farm Bill enhanced the RCPP-AFA provision and authorized NRCS to award up to 15 projects annually. Project types that may be suited to RCPP-AFAs, as highlighted by the 2018 Farm Bill statute include:
Projects that use innovative approaches to leverage the federal investment in conservation.
Projects that deploy a pay-for-performance conservation approach.
Projects that seek large-scale infrastructure investment that generate conservation benefits for agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forest owners.
NRCS is accepting RCPP-AFA project proposals now through May 28. Proposals must be submitted through the RCPP portal at https://nrcs-sites.secure.force.com/. Information about this request for proposals is available on grants.gov. A list of last year’s awarded projects can be found here.