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Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA)

Grants to USA Agencies, Organizations, IHEs, and
Associations for Conservation Projects on Farmlands

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

05/28/21 11:59 PM ET Receipt


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Grants to USA and territories local, state, and tribal governments, farmer cooperatives, IHEs, associations, and districts for projects that address resource conservation on farmlands and forest lands. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. NRCS gives priority consideration to AFA projects that propose to meaningfully engage historically underserved farmers, ranchers, and landowners.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions that expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. NRCS seeks to co-invest with RCPP partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

Through RCPP, partners propose projects—using guidance contained in this notice—that generate conservation benefits by addressing specific natural resource objectives in a state/multistate area, or address one or more primary resource concerns within a Critical Conservation Area (CCA). NRCS and partners design, implement and evaluate RCPP projects on agricultural and non-industrial private forest land. NRCS coinvests in RCPP projects selected through a competitive application process that evaluates applications based on four criteria: impact, partner contributions, innovation, and partnerships and management.

The 2018 Farm Bill statute provides examples of project types that might be implemented through RCPP AFA:

  • Projects that use innovative approaches to leverage the Federal investment in conservation;
  • Projects that deploy a pay-for-performance conservation approach;
  • Projects that seek large-scale infrastructure investments that generate conservation benefits for agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forest owners.

RCPP AFA supports partners in carrying out the goals and vision of RCPP through innovative project frameworks and payment mechanisms. RCPP AFA applications must include conservation approaches or payment mechanisms that are not as effectively implementable through RCPP Classic. RCPP AFA applications must propose one of the following project types:

  • Projects making infrastructure investments relating to agricultural or nonindustrial private forest production that benefit multiple producers and address natural resource concerns such as drought, wildfire, or water quality impairment on the land covered by the project.
  • Projects addressing natural resources concerns through targeted coordination with producers, including the development and implementation of watershed, habitat, or other area restoration plans (note that a proposal focused solely or largely on planning is unlikely to be competitive). Projects may use sophisticated targeting tools to identify priority areas for conservation or use innovative mechanisms to aggregate and streamline contracts for producers, all in service of maximizing conservation impacts at a watershed or regional scale.
  • Projects that use innovative approaches to leverage the Federal investment in conservation with private financial mechanisms, in conjunction with agricultural production or forest resource management. These projects may include pay-for-performance, pay-for-success and environmental market approaches.
  • Any other project consistent with program goals and objectives that cannot be effectively carried out through RCPP Classic

For regional funding priorities and funding pools, see pages 8-9 of the NOFO document in Attached Files below. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 171400

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Up to 15 awards

Estimated Size of Grant:

Award Ceiling: $10,000,000
Award Floor: $250,000

Term of Contract:

Funded projects are generally 5 years in length.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applications are accepted from all 50 States, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands), and U.S. territories in the Pacific Island Areas (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).

Lead partner entities must qualify as one of the following:
- An agricultural or silvicultural producer association or other group of producers;
- A State or unit of local government;
- An Indian Tribe;
- A farmer cooperative;
- A water district, irrigation district, rural water district or association, or other organization with specific water delivery authority to agricultural producers;
- A municipal water or wastewater treatment entity;
- An institution of higher education; and
- An organization or entity with an established history of working cooperatively with producers on agricultural land, as determined by NRCS, to address: Local conservation priorities related to agricultural production, wildlife habitat development or nonindustrial private forest land management; or Critical watershed-scale soil erosion, water quality, sediment reduction, or other natural resource issues.
- An entity, such as an Indian Tribe, State government, local government, or a nongovernmental organization, as identified by NRCS pursuant to 7 CFR Part1468.
- A conservation district.

Individual producers and landowners are not eligible to submit project applications under this notice.

For information on land eligibility, see page 12 of the NOFO document in Attached Files below.

Pre-proposal Conference:

On April 1, 2021 at 3pm EDT, NRCS will be hold a webinar for partners interested in submitting a proposal for an RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangement. To sign up for this training please email

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be received by NRCS by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 28, 2021.

At least four weeks prior to the application deadline, and before starting an application in the RCPP portal, eligible entities interested in applying to RCPP are advised to request a meeting with the appropriate NRCS State RCPP coordinator(s).

While a specific amount of partner contributions is not required, it is NRCS’s goal that partner contributions at least equal the NRCS investment in an RCPP project. Contributions can be any combination of direct funding and in-kind support.

Applicants must submit applications through the NRCS Programs Portal. Applicants must have eAuthentication (eAuth) level-2 credentials to access the Programs Portal. This is a Departmental requirement and is non-negotiable.

All RCPP applicants must have or obtain a DUNS number and a current System for Award Management (SAM) registration.

For more information please contact your state RCPP coordinator (see Supporting Documents below).

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

Partners with questions are encouraged to contact the appropriate NRCS State RCPP coordinator with proposal related questions. Potential applicants may also contact national RCPP staff with questions.


CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

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