With the 2018 Farm Bill came substantial changes to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The program funds individual award grants of between $250,000 and $10,000,000 to partners working on projects that improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.
RCPP projects may include activities such as:
Land management, land improvement and restoration practices,
United States-held easements, and
Public works and watersheds.
The first iteration of RCPP came in the 2014 Farm Bill. This second iteration pulled RCPP out as a stand-alone program with dedicated funding replacing prior funding derived from NRCS programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). For fiscal year 2019 and each year afterward, up to $300 million is available through RCPP. As a standalone project, RCPP funding will require landowners and agricultural producers to enter into RCPP contracts and RCPP easements. For the projects funding through RCPP dollars, partners must now develop and report on their environmental outcomes.
The 2018 Farm Bill reduced the number of funding pools within RCPP from three to two in an effort to make the submission and approval process easier. Now partners can apply to either the Critical Conservation Area (CCAs) pool or the State/Multistate funding pool. Funding is divided 50 / 50 between the two pools.
The eight CCAs are:
Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Great Lakes Region
Mississippi River Basin
Colorado River Basin
Longleaf Pine Range
Columbia River Basin
Prairie Grasslands Region
California Bay Delta
This iteration of the RCPP also includes the Enhanced Alternative Funding Arrangement (AFA) provision, which allows for grant-like funds that rely on partner capacity to implement conservation activities. The NRCS may award up to 15 AFA projects.
All proposals for Fiscal Year 2019 RCPP funding are due December 3, 2019.