USDA commits $1.5B to conservation and climate-smart agriculture

By Staff
2 Min Read

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing a record $1.5 billion to help farmers advance conservation and climate-smart strategies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday.

The expanded funding, secured from the Farm Bill and Inflation Reduction Act, is available for fiscal 2024 through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which supports conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers and landowners by giving money to land trusts, wildlife groups, state departments of agriculture and other organizations.

Additionally, the USDA is working to “streamline and simplify” the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and improve processes and implementation for users after “unprecedented demand” for the conservation program last year, Vilsack said.

“Through the increase in funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we’re able to invest even more this year in this important program, increasing our impact across the landscape,” Vilsack said in a statement coinciding with his visit to Mankato, Minnesota. 

Project proposals can be submitted to the USDA through July 2. This fiscal year, there are two funding opportunities available: RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements.

Last year, the USDA awarded more than $1 billion for 81 Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects that focused on water, land and climate strategies. According to a news release, the projects “can save farmers money, create new revenue streams, and increase productivity.”

This funding comes after an environmental activist group challenged the merit of USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, saying in a report that the program mostly funds projects like fencing, irrigation and livestock waste management, which arguably do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Around that time, a USDA spokesperson told Agriculture Dive that the report was “flawed” and failed to account for the agency’s science-based methodology when determining what should receive funding.

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