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USDA Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

by | Mar 14, 2016 | News & Views

USDA
Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Applications
sought with a focus on environmental markets, conservation finance

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced March
10 the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the
nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife
habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available
through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership
Program and applicants must be able to match the federal
award with private or local funds.

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP
investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led
projects. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that
can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities,
non-profits and other nongovernment partners to work with farmers, ranchers and
forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that
work best for their region. This will be the third round of funding through
RCPP, helping USDA build on record enrollment in all voluntary conservation
programs, with more than 500,000 producers participating to protect land and
water on more than 400 million acres nationwide.

“Across the country, locally-driven efforts
are having a positive effect on conservation and production,” said Vilsack. “RCPP serves as a valuable vehicle for matching federal investment and private
capital to advance natural resource conservation and support agricultural
production. Partners in the 84 new high-impact projects we announced in
February are matching USDA funding more than two-to-one for a combined
investment of over $720 million.

“We recognize the growing interest in
leveraging private capital markets to foster impact investments in
conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry,” said Vilsack. “For this
new round, we hope to see even more applications that support the development
of environmental markets and conservation finance projects.”

USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal
Year 2017 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due May 10. For more information on
applying, visit the RCPP website.

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