EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Federal Awarding Agency Name:
U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Funding Opportunity Title:
Notice of Funding for NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for Federal Fiscal
Year (FY) 202 3. Funding Opportunity Number:
USDA-NRCS-NHQ-RCPP-23-NOFO0001304 Federal Assistance Listing (previously referred to as the Catalog of Federal Financial Assistance):
1 0. 932, RCPP Due Date:
Proposals must be received by NRCS by 4:59 p.m.
Eastern Time on August 18, 202 3. The RCPP promotes the coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that contribute a significant portion of the overall costs of a project.
This coordination expands our ability to address resource concerns at farm, watershed, and regional scales.
Through the RCPP, NRCS coinvests with partners to implement projects that address conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes for resource concerns.
Using guidance contained in this notice, potential RCPP partners propose projects that generate conservation benefits by addressing specific natural resource objectives in a state or multistate area or address one or more priority resource concerns within an NRCS-designated critical conservation area (CCA).
NRCS and partners collaborate to design, promote, and implement RCPP projects on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest land.
Through the RCPP, NRCS may provide both financial and technical assistance funds to project partners and producers to carry out projects.
RCPP proposals are evaluated through a competitive proposal process based on three criteria:
quantifiable impact, partner contributions, and partnership and management.
NRCS is actively working on improving the delivery and administration of the RCPP.
Some of the improvements will be directed at areas such as simplifying and reducing the number of agreements while still complying with statutory and regulatory requirements, streamlining and reducing evaluation criteria, reducing lengthy RCPP easement transactions, improving the RCPP Portal, consistent guidance and training for employees and partners, as well as simplifying the technical assistance structure.
In FY 2023, NRCS will make a total of $500 million available for both the “Classic” component and the alternative funding arrangements (AFA).
The $500 million total is funded from two separate authorizations:
the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA).
Individual RCPP projects will only receive RCPP funds from a single source, either the 2018 Farm Bill funds or the IRA funds due to the specific, measurable climate-smart targeting required in the IRA.
NRCS will prioritize using IRA funds for projects that will implement climate-smart agriculture conservation activities which are targeted to assist agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forestland owners in directly improving soil carbon, reducing nitrogen losses, or reducing, capturing, avoiding, or sequestering carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide emissions, associated with agricultural production, Where co-benefits exist with climate mitigation goals exist, IRA funds can support projects that address water resource concerns and associated risks.
Up to 15 AFAs may be awarded through 2018 Farm Bill funding, and additional AFAs or grants may be awarded through IRA funding.
There is no cap on the number of AFAs/ Grants that can be funded utilizing the IRA funding.
Proposals will be accepted for projects located in all 50 states, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and U. S. Virgin Islands), and U. S. territories in the Pacific Island Areas (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
Up to $50 million is being made available specifically for NRCS to enter into AFAs with Indian Tribes.
Any unused funds may be available to enter into other partnership agreements.
RCPP AFAs are intended to support projects and approaches that cannot be effectively carried out through RCPP Classic.
RCPP AFA applications must describe the conservation approach they are proposing.
The following are examples of project types that might be implemented through RCPP AFA:
projects that use innovative approaches to leverage the Federal investment in conservation, projects that deploy a pay-for-performance conservation approach, and projects that seek large-scale infrastructure investments that generate conservation benefits for agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forest owners.
Applicants must submit proposals through the RCPP portal, and partners must be registered with USDA’s eAuthentication system to access the portal.
See section VIII of this notice for time sensitive information on registering for eAuthentication and for other details about on using the RCPP portal to submit proposals.
For More Information:
Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate RCPP coordinator for their state to discuss any questions.
A list of state RCPP coordinators (as of the date of this notice’s posting) is on the RCPP website.
Applicants can also email questions about this notice to the RCPP inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RCPP website also provides current information about the program.
Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in webinars that provide general information about this funding announcement.
Two webinars are scheduled for May 24, 2023, from 2 p.m.
to 3:30 p.m.
Eastern Time and June 7, 2023 from 2 p.m.
to 3:30 p.m.
(you may join the conference 10 minutes prior).
Additional webinars may be announced as needed.
Connection information is posted on the RCPP How to Apply website - https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs-initiatives/rcpp-regional-conservation-partnership-program/how-to-apply.