There are many changes in this newly passed farm bill – and some have said that it will be the most complicated farm bill yet! One of the changes is a significant shift in the way we promote on-farm natural resource conservation. And it might impact you.
The Regional Conservation Partnership (RCPP) program appears to signal a new direction for on-farm natural resource conservation policy by shifting from individual agreements under single programs to a coordinated effort across multiple farms on a regional basis to address large-scale natural resource issues. This effort will be led by non-federal partners who are contributing substantial amounts of resources from both monetary and in-kind contributions. At its core, this new direction seeks to better help producers meet existing regulations and requirements or to avoid new natural resource-based regulations by addressing the issues before the fall of any regulatory hammer. This significant departure from traditional conservation program operation may have far-reaching implications for farmers, natural resource conservation and the myriad policies that impact them both.
The RCPP is a new program in the Conservation Title (Title II) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) that consolidates several programs eliminated by the bill, using funds and authorities from existing conservation programs to coordinate conservation efforts across the programs and on a regional scale.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at USDA will administer the program, accepting applications on a competitive basis for agreements with eligible partners to implement a project that will help farmers and landowners install and maintain conservation practices. While the project is coordinated through partners, it operates by having USDA enter into contracts directly with producers for the financial assistance from the underlying programs for installing and maintaining conservation practices, and the general terms and conditions of the covered programs apply. USDA also pays participating producers directly.
This is a program you will definitely want to know more about. Click here to read the full article.
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