A Department of Agriculture program will invest $330 million in 85 public-private partnerships across the country through a farm bill program designed to funnel money to local conservation projects.

The funds are awarded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program run by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program, first authorized in the 2014 farm bill, has invested more than $3 billion in public and private funds in private-lands conservation. Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby called RCPP “public-private partnerships working at their best.

“These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis,” he added.

An NRCS release said the projects will “address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.” The program calls for partner contributions of more than $1 for each $1 USDA invests; at least $440 million in additional funds are expected to be generated from communities and other partners.

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Among the projects to receive funding is a Pennsylvania effort to delist impaired waters in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, by 2040; a joint Nebraska and South Dakota project to increase rangeland resiliency on 40 area ranches; and a California State University effort to help orchard/vineyard, rangeland, dairy and row crop producers to implement soil health practices and carbon farm planning activities.

NRCS also produced a map of projects awarded funding.

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