Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Dec. 21 that 88 high-impact projects across the country will receive $225 million in federal funding as part of the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
In addition, partners have proposed to contribute up to an additional $500 million to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.
With the announcement, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing a total of $825 million in 286 projects, bringing together more than 2,000 conservation partners who have committed an estimated $1.4 billion in financial and technical assistance.
By 2018, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners, including Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, private industry, water districts, universities and many others, will have invested at least $2.4 billion through RCPP, which was created by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The New York state project is titled “Agricultural Stewardship in the Peconic Estuary” on Long Island in Suffolk County.
A proposed investment of $1.212 million will be provided so a partnership among government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and private farmers can provide technical assistance and financial resources to Suffolk County farmers within the federally-designated Peconic Estuary Watershed in New York.
According to a news release, “with these resources, farmers can conduct nutrient management plans and integrated pest management plans to adapt best management practices, which will improve water quality, soil vitality and wildlife habitat. The project will support an agricultural specialist at the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District whose primary responsibility will be to assist farmers with their nutrient and pest management plans.”
The project also will provide farmers with access to trained professionals who can provide information about additional Natural Resources Conservation Service funding needed to enhance agricultural stewardship efforts.