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A pair of new federal funding opportunities to support conservation and climate-smart agriculture initiatives includes a $100 million set-aside for tribal-led projects, according to the U.S. Department of  Agriculture. 

The funding opportunities are part of a $1.5 billion investment in partner-driven climate solutions through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that the USDA announced on Wednesday. The USDA is accepting proposals through July 2, 2024 to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners save money, create new revenue streams, and increase productivity by adopting conservation strategies that tackle climate change, according to a USDA statement. 

The funding, made available through the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, marks the largest climate investment in history and helps address “unprecedented demand” for the RCCP program, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Last November, the agency announced more than $1 billion for 81 RCPP projects across the country. Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, NRCS has invested a total of $1.8 billion in 256 RCPP projects covering 49 states and territories.

Vilsack also touted the progress the agency's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made in simplifying RCCP and improving processes and implementation. That could help NRCS reach its goal of reducing negotiation time from 15 months to 6 months, according to a statement. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing what the more streamlined and customer-oriented (RCCP) can do to get more conservation on the ground in the coming months and years,” Vilsack said in the statement. 

The RCPP offers two distinct funding opportunities: RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). While RCPP Classic projects are implemented through NRCS contracts and easements in collaboration with project partners, RCPP AFA allows lead partners to work directly with agricultural producers to develop innovative conservation approaches.

NRCS will be hosting four webinars on the RCCP program over the next few months to provide additional information. 

NRCS is encouraging proposals led by historically underserved entities or Indian tribes, recognizing the importance of tribal involvement in shaping conservation initiatives that directly impact their lands and communities.

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