Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which brings together businesses, tribes, communities and other non-government partners to invest in conservation efforts, has drawn an overwhelming response from partners across the nation. Nearly 5,000 organizations partnered together to submit nearly 600 pre-proposals by the July deadline.

“This program is an entirely new approach to conservation," Vilsack said. "By establishing new public-private partnerships, we can have an impact that's well beyond what the Federal government could accomplish on its own.  And we put our partners in the driver’s seat, allowing them to find creative solutions to the conservation issues in their local areas.  The overwhelming response to this new effort illustrates an eagerness across country to partner and invest in innovative conservation projects.”

The RCPP is a way for private companies, tribes, local communities and non-government partners to collaborate and invest in cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat. It will allow USDA to partner with third parties or work directly with producers in watersheds and other critical conservation areas to leverage private sector funding to maximize conservation investments.

USDA has invested more than $12.5 billion in farm bill conservation programs since 2009. RCCP is also one way that the Obama Administration’s National Drought Resilience Partnership can support state, local and tribal efforts to plan and manage for long term drought resilience.

Since the farm bill enactment, USDA claims to have made significant progress to implement each provision of the legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit: www.usda.gov/farmbill.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, landowners should visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.