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USDA Streamlines Regional Conservation Partnership Program

USDA Streamlines Regional Conservation Partnership Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced improvements to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) as well as an unprecedented $1 billion investment to advance partner-driven solutions to conservation on agricultural land through 81 projects. Four Illinois projects will receive $42.7 million in funding. RCPP leverages a voluntary approach to conservation that expands the reach of conservation efforts and climate-smart agriculture through public-private partnerships. Historic funding is made possible by both the Inflation Reduction Act, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, and the Farm Bill.

“The unprecedented demand for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program shows how much interest there is from producers and partners for voluntary conservation on the ground,” said Tammy Willis, State Conservationist in Illinois for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “USDA is making historic investments and streamlining the program to make it work better for producers and partners. The combination of historic investments and streamlining actions will deliver conservation at a scale never achieved through RCPP.”

RCPP Improvements

NRCS has identified ways to streamline and simplify RCPP, ease the burden on employees and partners, and help maximize flexibility for partners to leverage their investments with NRCS resources and capabilities.

Through a concerted effort over the past eight months-using guidance, feedback, and expertise from partners, employees, leadership, and stakeholders-NRCS has identified several improvements that the agency will implement in the months and years ahead.

Improvements include:

  • Streamlining RCPP agreements for fiscal year 2023 awards and moving to one programmatic agreement to begin implementing the RCPP projects awarded under the fiscal year 2024 notice of funding opportunity. This will allow partners to begin quicker implementation of their RCPP projects.
  • Entrusting program management and negotiation to the State Conservationists, who lead NRCS programs in each state. This further encourages the locally led process and ensuring the necessary technical needs and costs were realized before project proposal submission.
  • Establishing parameters and expectations for easement negotiations, including availability of easement deed templates and established program processes to reduce partnership agreement negotiation and implementation timeframes. • Improving RCPP guidance and training, ensuring RCPP policies and procedures are communicated in a uniform and consistent manner.
  • Enhancing existing business tools to improve the user experience while beginning development of new business tools that, through integration and automation, will reduce the time required for agreement negotiation, processing obligations, and making payments to partners.

For the full list of RCPP improvements Illinois NRCS has identified for future implementation, visit our website at

Once improvements have been implemented, NRCS estimated that the negotiation time of RCPP agreements with U.S.-held easement activities will be reduced from 15 months to three months, and from 19 months to three months with entity-held easement activities.

The RCPP improvements are coming at a critical time, as they will strengthen NRCS’ ability to implement the Inflation Reduction Act, which provided $4.95 billion in additional funding for the program over five years.



Photo Credit: usda

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Categories: Illinois, Sustainable Agriculture

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