$260 million available for regional conservation

Proposals to USDA due by May 10
April 12, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The program encourages local leadership to establish partnerships to work with farmers and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that work best for their region. “Together with multiple sources of funding and manpower, these public-private partnerships can have an impact well beyond what the federal government could accomplish alone,” said Terron Hillsman, Maryland state conservationist.

For eligible partners in Delaware and Maryland to submit project proposals by Tuesday, May 10, go to

This is the third round of funding. In the last two years, funded projects have left a large conservation footprint across state lines that has had and will have beneficial impacts on Delaware and Maryland farmers. Eight RCPP projects within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed were selected in 2015, including Meeting Watershed Implementation Plan Goals in the Chesapeake Bay. This project brings together 15 partners to accelerate conservation and help Maryland and Delaware farmers meet the nutrient and sediment water-quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load.

“This cooperative project addresses water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by helping Delaware and Maryland farmers install targeted animal waste management practices for livestock and poultry, and utilize advanced nutrient management practices including biochip reactors and the expanded use of cover crops,” said Kasey Taylor, Delaware state conservationist. “It’s a win for our agricultural producers, a win for those who depend on the bay, and a win for the improvement of our natural resources.”

The Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay project includes a $4.5 million investment from NRCS and $5.4 million from local partners, bringing more than $10 million for this locally led approach to help producers support their ongoing business operations and address natural resource challenges in Maryland and Delaware.

“All of our selected project proposals showed that they could deliver a meaningful conservation impact to the community,” said Taylor. For this new round, there is a particular interest in applications that support the development of environmental markets and conservation finance projects. Eligible partners include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, nonprofits and other non-government organizations.

Since the inception of the program in 2014, there have been five critical conservation areas and state projects that have made an investment to Delaware’s farmers and the agricultural community. Delaware recently funded a project proposal from the Sussex Conservation District which will increase the opportunity for beginning farmers in Sussex County to receive funds for composters or freezers through an expedited process.



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