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USDA Makes $1.5 Billion Available to Help Farmers Advance Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture as Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of an historic $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2024 to invest in partner-driven conservation and climate solutions through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting project proposals now through July 2, 2024, that will help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners adopt and expand conservation strategies to enhance natural resources while tackling the climate crisis. These projects in turn can save farmers money, create new revenue streams, and increase productivity.

The investments in climate-smart agriculture that USDA has made since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, and will continue to make through the Inflation Reduction Act and Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, are estimated to support over 180,000 farms and over 225 million acres in the next 5 years.

Today’s investment is made available through the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history, which has enabled USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to boost funding for RCPP. Additionally, NRCS is announcing progress on its effort to streamline and simplify RCPP and improve processes and implementation.

“We had unprecedented demand for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program last year, showing the robust interest in conservation from farmers and ranchers,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Through the increase in funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we’re able to invest even more this year in this important program, increasing our impact across the landscape. We’re looking forward to seeing what the more streamlined and customer-oriented Regional Conservation Partnership Program can do to get more conservation on the ground in the coming months and years.”

There are two separate funding opportunities being announced today: RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, the lead partner works directly with agricultural producers to support the development of innovative conservation approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic. NRCS will set aside $100 million for Tribal-led projects to be used between both funding opportunities.

The 2024 RCPP funding priorities are climate-smart agriculture, urban agriculture, conservation, and environmental justice. This funding advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain climate, clean energy, and other federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Today’s action also advances President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, a 10-year, locally led and nationally scaled conservation initiative that includes the voluntary efforts of farmers, ranchers and private landowners.

NRCS encourages proposals led by historically underserved entities or Indian tribes.

Source : usda.gov

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