USDA receives hundreds of pre-proposals for new conservation partnership program

By Breanne Brammer

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WASHINGTON, August 4, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the new USDARegional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) received 600 pre-proposals before the July deadline.

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The program creates partners with more than 5,000 businesses, tribes communities and non-government groups to invest in conservation efforts. More than six times the available funding of $396 million was requested. Proposals ranged from $6,000 to $20 million.

"By establishing new public-private partnerships, we can have an impact that's well beyond what the federal government could accomplish on its own,” Vilsack said. “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 partnerships allow USDA to work with third parties or directly with producers in watersheds and critical conservation areas to leverage private sector funding to maximize conservation investments.

The department received proposals from all 50 states and each critical conservation area, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and Prairie Grasslands Region. Applications are scored on their ability to be innovative in conservation methods and assist producers in meeting natural resource regulations among other criteria.

Vilsack said this is a new approach to conservation and that the sizable response indicates eagerness from organizations across the country to invest in conservation. The collaboration will encourage cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat.

Around 230 applications will be invited to submit full proposals, due October 2. Applications can be submittedonline for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services assistance.


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