The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) offers new opportunities for the NRCS, conservation partners and agricultural producers to work together to harness innovation, expand the conservation mission and demonstrate the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation.
Things You Should Know about the new RCPP
The 2018 Farm Bill reconfigures RCPP as a stand-alone program with its own funding and producer contracts.
RCPP projects still include conservation activities associated with other USDA programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Healthy Forests Reserve Program, PL 83-566 Watershed Program, and the Conservation Reserve Program. The forthcoming RCPP funding announcement describes how RCPP interacts with these other programs through RCPP contracts.
RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions.
RCPP projects start with an application by an eligible partner. Selected partners work alongside NRCS to help agricultural producers and forest landowners implement conservation activities that address natural resource priorities on eligible lands.
Eligible Partners: Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, farmer cooperatives or other groups of producers, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, municipal water treatment entities, water and irrigation districts, conservation-driven nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher education, and conservation districts.
Eligible Land: RCPP activities may be carried out on any agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land, or associated land on which USDA determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits.
RCPP includes new flexibilities for partners and producers.
The new RCPP statute calls on USDA to streamline program participation and provide flexibility to participating partners and producers. For example, the 2018 Farm Bill directs USDA to provide up to 15 RCPP awards each year in the form of alternative financial arrangements or grants. The forthcoming RCPP funding announcement describes how partners can take advantage of this and other new provisions to explore new ways to support producers in getting conservation on the ground.
Funding for RCPP is allocated into projects in two different categories.
Critical Conservation Areas (CCA) - For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by the Secretary of Agriculture. These receive 50 percent of funding. Learn more about RCPP Critical Conservation Areas.
State/Multistate - For projects in a single state or across several states. These receive 50 percent of funding.
2014 Farm Bill CCA Projects
Jacoby Creek Partnership lead by Tecumseh Land Trust
The goal if the Jacoby Creek Partnership is to improve landowner engagement and to elevate the level of conservation of farmland in the Jacoby Creek Watershed (west of Yellow Springs OH) for easement protected land and those not yet protected. The project uses both ACEP-ALE and EQIP sponsor programs to engage producers. The project also includes student monitoring for water quality, soils sampling, and local municipality planning. Award: $1,4440,000
2014 Farm Bill State/Multistate Projects
Spotted Knapweed for Ohio Producers lead by Morgan Soil and Water Conservation District
The goal of the Spotted Knapweed for Ohio Producers is to build on a larger effort to address spotted knapweed in the Morgan, Muskingum, Nobel and Guernsey Counties. The partnership continues to pursue a strong effort to address the persistent weed that affects livestock in the area. This RCPP project includes an expansion of their partnership efforts and has broadened applying treatment to road ROW and municipal held property. Award $563,000
2018 Farm Bill CCA Projects
Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration
Indiana, Michigan and Ohio will join forces with over 30 partners, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio State University to help participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities. Award: $7,780,779
2018 Farm Bill State/Multistate Projects
The Ohio Department of Agriculture will use RCPP funding to complement its H2Ohio initiative, launched in 2019. The initiative focuses land management practice and system implementation to reduce Lake Erie nutrient enrichment. A diverse group of 20 partners intend to focus this project on farms and farmers in a 10-county portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) not currently included in the H2Ohio program, thereby accelerating progress toward achieving Ohio's commitment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Award $8,000,000
Rocky Fork RCPP
Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners will work with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed. The partnership will help producers implement cover crops, field borders, and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, helping alleviate algal blooms in Rocky Fork Lake. Award $873,152
2018 Farm Bill Alternative Funding Agreements
Pilot Watershed Project (Ohio):Ohio State University The project will establish a pilot watershed in the larger Western Lake Erie Basin to test water quality management strategies with the goal of reducing phosphorus concentrations in local water bodies. The project will improve water quality monitoring infrastructure and incentivize participation through an “agglomeration bonus” that increases payments as more producers implement practices. Funding Amount: $6,839,113
Pilot Watershed Project (Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia):U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities The project will reforest abandoned mine lands in the Appalachian region leveraging private capital and carbon market revenues. Partners will plant 2.5 million trees and the sequestered carbon estimated and sold as carbon offsets. Restored forest ecosystems will also benefit wildlife, including golden-winged warbler and American woodcock. Funding Amount: $2,178,500
Soil and Water Outcomes Fund (Iowa, Illinois, Ohio): Ag Technology and Environmental Stewardship Foundation The project will incorporate an innovative pay-for-performance approach to compensate producers for water quality and soil health improvements using independently verified environmental outcomes. RCPP funding and partner contributions will create a pool of pay-for-performance funds used to pay for the verified nitrogen and phosphorus reductions and verified emissions reductions resulting from practice implementation. Funding Amount: $7,307,000
Water Quality Degradation
Soil Quality Degradation
How to Apply to RCPP
The application period for new RCPP projects for Fiscal Year 2022 will extend to 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2022. View the funding opportunity on grants.gov for RCPP Classic and RCPP AFA.
If you are a producer and/or landowner interested in applying for existing RCPP projects, more information can be found here.