While we are indeed in the throes of winter, there really is no better time to think about your next planting season than now. Seed and fertilizer are often purchased this time of year, planning for conservation should be no different.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) offers new opportunities for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), conservation partners and agricultural producers to work together to harness innovation, expand the conservation mission and demonstrate the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation.

Compared to other USDA programs, RCPP is unique in that it allows private entities to apply for NRCS conservation funding, provide at least a match to those funds, and assist in the direction and purpose of those funds.

So what is available to me?

RCPP empowers local organizations and communities to pitch their own projects. Locally, the City of Charles City and the Upper Cedar Watershed Urban-Rural Partnership have applied for a $1.6 million RCPP agreement. Watersheds that were identified as grant priority areas were: Rock Creek, Skunk Creek-Cedar River, Spring Creek, and Sugar Creek-Cedar River. If you farm in these watersheds, you may be eligible for conservation funding through RCPP! If you are not in one of these watersheds, you may have other funding options. The continuous Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) remains available, as it always has, for all locations throughout the Nation.

What conservation practices are available?

The conservation practices that will receive funding for RCPP are Nutrient Management, Bioreactors, Saturated Buffers, No Till/Strip Till, and Cover Crops. Payment rates for most practices are higher than in the regular EQIP Pools.

What is the timeline?

While applications are accepted at any time, NRCS batches and ranks applications at least twice per year. The application deadline to be considered for RCPP funding this year is March 16th. Funds are available until the conclusion of 2020 (or when the funds are exhausted).

What are the risks of applying?

Applying for the program is free, obligates you to nothing, and provides you the opportunity to have a conservation professional visit with you on your farm about any natural resource concerns.

I am concerned about the government poking around my property.

The NRCS is a non-regulatory agency within the USDA that works with producers on a voluntary basis to put conservation on the ground. We seek to solve conservation challenges and innovate, not regulate.

This is an opportunity

The likelihood of having a successful application with this special pool of funds is much higher than found with regular EQIP applications so please don’t delay!

For more information, contact Corey Brink at 641-732-5504, Ext. 3, at corey.brink@ia.usda.gov or at the office, USDA-NRCS, 1529 Main Street, Osage, IA 50461.

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Regional Editor

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