September 01, 2022

USDA investing $197 million in conservation

USDA investing $197 million in conservation 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, that it will be awarding $197 million for 41 locally-led conservation projects. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) leverages partner resources to advance innovative projects that address climate change, enhance water quality, and address other critical challenges on agricultural land. The 41 programs range across multiple states, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas. 

“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 awards will fund the RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using National Resource Conservation Service 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.

In addition, through the Inflation Reduction Act, $19.5 billion in new conservation funding is available to support climate-smart agriculture, through the new USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This service will improve opportunities for nutrient management by increasing program flexibilities, launching a new outreach campaign to promote nutrient management’s economic benefits, and expanding partnerships to develop nutrient management plans. 

"President Biden and Congress have taken an important, historic step towards easing the burden of inflation on the American public and meeting the moment on climate,” said Vilsack. “Agriculture has long been at the forefront of our fight against climate change. From climate-smart agriculture to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure, and beyond, the Inflation Reduction Act provides USDA with significant additional resources to continue to lead the charge.”

The Inflation Reduction Act invests $40 billion into existing USDA programs to promote climate-smart agriculture, rural energy efficiency and reliability, and forest conservation.  Approximately $20 billion of this investment will support conservation programs that allow more producers to have access to conservation assistance.