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USDA Holds Webinar to Clarify the RCPP Project Funding Process

On June 4th, USDA held a webinar to clarify the eligibility, criteria, and proposal process for requesting Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) funding for projects in Critical Conservation Area (CCAs), and national (multi-state) or state projects.  As a reminder, the RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs:  the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program; the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program; the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative; and the Great Lakes Basin Program to benefit soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources.  The RCCP can be a vital tool in protecting sources of drinking water.
Some changes to RCPP applications/projects this year include:

  • The maximum amount of funding for individual RCPP projects has been reduced from $20 million to $10 million.
  • The RFP period for submitting pre-proposals has been extended.
  • Pre-proposals must now estimate costs and contributions from other leveraged/matching partner funding, technical assistance, and in-kind contributions.  Pre-proposal evaluations will not give priority to projects receiving cash versus in-kind contributions from partners.
  • Eligible project goals now also include drought.

Other key discussion points included:

  • CCA project areas can extend outside of a CCA boundary if the majority of the project area is within the CCA.
  • The RCPP pre-proposal online data entry tool is being updated and should be fixed by June 5th.
  • The NRCS state conservationists have been provided their funding allocations for state based projects.  USDA recommends that partners work with the state conservationists to help with the development of the proposal and project activities to address state specific resource concerns.  State conservationists must approve project pre-proposals to ensure they meet RCPP criteria.
  • Proposals will be five year partnership agreements to show results within that “near-term” five year project period, outline funding required for the project term, and will include annual reporting requirements.
  • Matching contributions cannot come from:  a project that previously received NRCS project funds, from a farmer using previously received NRCS project funds, or farmer costs.
  • Matching contributions can come from another Federal agency, but must be acknowledged in a letter by that agency.
  • State agencies are eligible project partners.

USDA will be posting the slides and a video of the webinar on the RCPP web site in the near future.  As a reminder, RCPP pre-proposals are due on July 8, 2015.