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Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA)

Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA)The Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977, as amended (RCA) provides the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) broad strategic assessment and planning authority for the conservation, protection, and enhancement of soil, water, and related natural resources. Through RCA, USDA:

  • appraises the status and trends of soil, water, and related resources on non-Federal land and assesses their capability to meet present and future demands;
  • evaluates current and needed programs, policies, and authorities; and
  • develops a national soil and water conservation program to give direction to USDA soil and water conservation activities.
2011 RCA Appraisal cover

The 2011 RCA Appraisal provides an overview of land use and the U.S. agricultural sector; of the status, condition, and trends of natural resources on non-Federal lands; and of USDA’s program for soil and water resources conservation. Looking ahead, it examines interrelated issues that have implications for U.S. agriculture and forestry: climate change, biofuels production, and the quality and availability of water.

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RCA Data Sources

The RCA Data Viewer has been updated to include FY 2020 data in the State, Regional, and National Conservation Program reports. These reports now cover fiscal years 2009-2020, and include data on obligations, contracts, and easements, as well as conservation practices applied by resource concern. The RCA data viewer provides tabular reports, maps, and downloadable data files. 2017 National Resources Inventory data are also available at the state, regional, and national levels.

Public Input

National Agricultural Landscapes Forum

The National Agricultural Landscapes (NAL) Forum brought together agricultural and conservation leaders from across the country on April 7–8, 2011, to discuss policy, programs, and economic challenges that will help shape the future of the agricultural landscape and rural regions. Hosted and organized by American Farmland Trust, Farm Foundation NFP, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the NAL Forum addressed questions affecting two key resource issues: Landscape Integrity and Water Security. These issues were explored in the context of forces affecting conservation outcomes: innovation, technology and research; institutional arrangements; and market forces.

Incorporating Tribal Perspectives into the RCA

To ensure that the USDA’s RCA reports to Congress reflect the concerns and recommendations of tribal nations and Native peoples, the USDA Office of Tribal Relations requested that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) gather input from tribal nations on natural resource conservation policies and their application and impact in Indian Country. NCAI conducted four roundtable meetings with tribal organizations, and twenty-six interviews with individuals representing a broad cross-section of entities involved in tribal natural resource conservation. Structured to address the key natural resource issues of water security, climate variability, and landscape integrity, the roundtable meetings and interviews focused on conservation policy priorities, barriers affecting Tribes’ ability to participate in USDA conservation programs, and economic development opportunities.

RCA Related Publications

For more information about RCA, contact Roger Claassen, NRCS RCA Coordinator at (301) 504-3969 or E-Mail