Funds Available for Regional Conservation Partnership

The United States Department of Food and Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced program funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangement (AFA) competition for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2021. Approximately $75 million is available for up to 15 RCPP AFA Projects in FY 2021. Applications due May 28, 2021.

What is the purpose of Regional Conservation Partnership Program Alternative Funding Arrangement?
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions that expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. The RCPP AFA component is intended to support project structures and approaches that cannot be carried out as effectively through RCPP Classic. RCPP AFA applicants must describe the innovative nature of the conservation approach they are proposing to justify potential funding through an RCPP AFA.
Who is eligible to apply?
The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits a project proposal, and if selected for an award, negotiates and executes an RCPP PPA with NRCS. The lead partner is ultimately responsible for ensuring completion of project deliverables, delivering all partner contributions, and assessing and reporting project outcomes. Lead partner entities must qualify as one of the following:
  • An agricultural or silvicultural producer association or other group of producers;
  • A State or unit of local government;
  • An Indian Tribe;
  • A farmer cooperative;
  • A water district, irrigation district, rural water district or association, or other organization with specific water delivery authority to agricultural producers;
  • A municipal water or wastewater treatment entity;
  • An institution of higher education; and
  • An organization or entity with an established history of working cooperatively with producers on agricultural land, as determined by NRCS, to address:
    • Local conservation priorities related to agricultural production, wildlife habitat development, or nonindustrial private forest land management; or
    • Critical watershed-scale soil erosion, water quality, sediment reduction, or other natural resource issues.
  • An entity, such as an Indian Tribe, State government, local government, or a nongovernmental organization, as identified by NRCS pursuant to 7 CFR Part1468.
  • A conservation district.

Individual producers and landowners are not eligible to submit project applications under this notice.

What types of projects are eligible?
RCPP AFA applications must propose one of the following project types:
  • Projects making infrastructure investments relating to agricultural or nonindustrial private forest production that benefit multiple producers or landowners and address natural resource concerns such as drought, wildfire, or water quality impairment on the land covered by the project.
  • Projects addressing natural resources concerns through targeted coordination with producers and landowners, including the development and implementation of watershed, habitat, or other area restoration plans (note that a proposal focused solely or largely on planning is unlikely to be competitive). Projects may use sophisticated targeting tools to identify priority areas for conservation or use innovative mechanisms to aggregate and streamline contracts for producers, all in service of maximizing conservation impacts at a watershed or regional scale.
  • Projects that use innovative approaches to leverage the Federal investment in conservation with private financial mechanisms, in conjunction with agricultural production or nonindustrial private forest resource management. These projects may include pay-for-performance, pay-for-success, and environmental market approaches.
  • Any other project consistent with RCPP program goals and objectives that cannot be effectively carried out through RCPP Classic.

NRCS also strongly encourages the submission of RCPP proposals addressing the conservation needs of urban farmers in metropolitan areas. Interest in urban agriculture continues to grow and there is a common need to address complex natural resource concerns related to energy conservation, water conservation, soil health and the long-term protection of land. Additionally, RCPP provides opportunities to help partners and urban farmers meet the growing demand for access to healthy fresh food in historically underserved populated communities.

What are the funding levels for this program?

NRCS may select up to 15 projects through this RCPP AFA funding announcement. NRCS intends to spend up to $75 million on RCPP AFA projects in fiscal year (FY) 2021.

The maximum funding (combined financial and technical assistance) available for any project selected under this RCPP AFA announcement is $10 million. The minimum funding amount is $250,000.

Is there a match requirement or cost sharing?
There is no cost sharing or match requirement for this program.
What is the grant program timeline?
Applications are due by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on May 28, 2021.

The Request for Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


We’ve worked with a wide variety of clients on a broad range of projects and are happy to discuss solutions that can best fit your needs.

Get in Touch