Last Updated January 26, 2010
Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)
Supporting local and regional conservation practices through partnerships
The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) supports special local and regional conservation projects that involve groups of farmers or ranchers in partnership with USDA, farm, conservation and other non-governmental organizations, state and tribal agencies, and/or other entities.
The CCPI ensures specific attention to state and local conservation priorities and concerns, with 90 percent of the funds and acres reserved for projects chosen by the NRCS State Conservationist, in consultation with the NRCS State Technical Committees. The USDA Secretary is directed to use the remaining 10 percent of the funding for multi-state CCPI projects selected through a national competitive process. Project partnership agreements with USDA can run for up to 5 years.
Key Aspects of the New CCPI
The CCPI funds projects with the following purposes:
- Addressing conservation priorities on a local, state, multi-state or regional level;
- Encouraging producers to cooperate in meeting applicable federal, state and local regulatory requirements;
- Encouraging producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation practices that affect multiple operations; or
- Promoting the development and demonstration of innovative conservation practices and methods for delivering conservation services, including those for specialty crop and organic producers.
Eligibility and Application Information
Farmers and ranchers may enter into partnerships which include one or more of the following:
- States and local governments;
- Indian tribes;
- Producer associations;
- Farmer cooperatives;
- Institutions of higher education; or
- Nongovernmental organizations.
Required Information for Applications – A CCPI partnership agreement must include:
- Description of the conservation objectives to be achieved;
- Expected level of participation by agricultural producers in the area to be covered;
- Partnership to be developed;
- Amount of farm bill conservation funding requested;
- Amount of non-Federal contributions (in cash or in kind) that will be brought to the table; and
- Plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on progress made towards achieving the objectives.
Priorities for Project Selection - NRCS will give priority to applications that:
- Have a high percentage of agricultural producers involved;
- Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, or Federal efforts;
- Deliver high percentages of applied conservation; or
- Provide innovation in conservation methods and delivery, including outcome-based performance measures and methods.
Technical and Financial Assistance
To implement the Initiative, the 2008 Farm Bill directs USDA to reserve 6 percent of the total funds or total Page 32 Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities Guide acres, for each of the fiscal years 2009 through 2012, from the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. This translates into over $100 million a year being available for special cooperative conservation projects.
NRCS is directed to provide appropriate technical and financial assistance to producers participating in the project in an amount determined to be necessary to achieve the project objectives.
NRCS will ensure that basic rules for conservation programs apply, such as rules governing appeals, payment limitations, and conservation compliance. Beyond those basic rules, special partnership projects may apply for, and NRCS may approve, adjustments to the CSP, EQIP, or WHIP program practices, specifications or payment rates to:
- Better reflect unique local circumstances and purposes; and
- Provide preferential enrollment to producers who are eligible for the applicable program and who are participating in a CCPI partnership project.
CCPI projects may include funding and programmatic aspects from multiple eligible programs, for instance, CSP and WHIP or EQIP and CSP. It is also possible in a given location that a CCPI special project might dovetail with a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) or Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) project, such that the land retirement aspect of a project comes via the CREP or WREP and the working lands aspect of the project comes through the CCPI.
Example of a CCPI Special Project
The 2008 Farm Bill Conference Report provided the following example of a possible CCPI partnership project:
A cannery has closed and, without a cannery, nearby orchards are going out of business. A local watershed council joins with partners such as a State university, a wildlife organization and an organic growers' cooperative. They develop a project proposal to improve water quality and wildlife habitat by working with interested local producers to transition their orchards to organic grass-based cattle operations. The project assigns various tasks to the organizational partners. The watershed council takes the lead in submitting a CCPI application to the NRCS State Conservationist to designate $10,000,000 in EQIP funds and $250,000 in WHIP funds to the project. The State Conservationist approves the projects and sets aside the approved funding for producers participating in the project. Producers participating in the project and meeting program qualifications apply for and are enrolled in EQIP and WHIP without having to go through individual program ranking processes.
USDA Website Information
Access your state NRCS office here:
USDA Contact Information
Mark S. Parson
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
EQIP Program Specialist
1400 Independence Ave. SW Room 5227
Washington, DC 20250
202-720-1840 - Office
202-720-4265 - Fax