Final Rule Updates Regional Conservation Partnership Program

USDA has released the final rule for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The final rule adopts the interim rule that was directed by the 2018 Farm Bill and integrates feedback from agricultural producers and others. The final rule includes explicit special considerations for historically underserved (HU) producer and landowner enrollment and identifies ranking criteria for proposals that target the needs of HU producers. The 2018 Farm Bill made RCPP a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding and simplified rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduced the number of funding pools and emphasized partner reporting of conservation outcomes. The updated program also expands flexibility for alternative funding arrangements with partners and the availability of watershed program authorities to projects outside Critical Conservation Areas.