Source: USDA

By Sylvia Rainford

This summer, 40 organizations from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will work together to help agricultural producers reduce phosphorus runoff that ends up in the western Lake Erie basin, affecting water quality and contributing to algae blooms. This is an example of how the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) can be used to solve natural resource challenges in a community, state or region. 

Eligible conservation coalitions nationwide have about a week to submit pre-proposals to improve soil heath, preserve clean water, combat drought and protect wildlife habitat. The deadline is July 8.

USDA is investing up to $235 million through RCPP to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners — such as private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profit groups and other non-government partners — along with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to design solutions that work best for their region. Local partners and the federal government both invest funding and manpower to projects to maximize their impact. The NRCS administers RCPP.

This will be the second round of projects funded through RCPP. The program helps USDA build on record enrollment in conservation programs, with over 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.  In January, USDA delivered first-round funding to 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

USDA recently simplified the application process by creating new online tools: a pre-proposal fillable form, RCPP pre-application data entry tool and pre-proposal data entry tool instructions. These tools support partners as they fill out and submit their pre-proposal application.

Visit the RCPP website for more information about submitting RCPP pre-proposals and to view webinars about the pre-proposal process.