Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said nearly 600 projects, representing the work of nearly 5,000 organizations across the country, are being considered for the initial round of funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program – a new, innovative conservation initiative created in the 2014 Farm Bill. Chairwoman Stabenow and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited Michigan in May to launch the national conservation initiative, which will invest in water, land, and wildlife conservation across the country. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program will competitively award funds on an annual basis to conservation projects designed by local partners (including businesses, non-profits, universities, and federal, state and local governments) specifically for their region.
“Today’s announcement is an exciting next step for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “The response from businesses, non-profits, farmers and conservation leaders across the country has been tremendous – generating nearly 600 initial proposals to participate in the program. This program represents a new and innovative approach toward conservation, and will support the great work being done across the country – which will have a lasting impact on the health of our water, land and air.”
USDA will provide $1.2 billion in funding for the program over the next five years and can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation. In the first year, $400 million in USDA funding is available. Through the program, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat, and other related natural resources on private lands. Additionally, USDA has designated eight critical conservation areas across the country, including the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Mississippi river Basin, Longleaf Pine Range, Columbia River Basin, California Bay Delta, Prairie Grasslands, and the Colorado River Basin.
The 2014 Farm Bill represents the nation’s biggest investment in private land conservation and is one of the most significant pieces of conservation legislation in generations. For more information, please click here.