Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2024

Active
Yes
Status
Posted
Published Date
April 3rd, 2024
Close Date
July 2nd, 2024
Total Funding
$1,500,000,000.00
Award Ceiling
$25,000,000.00
Award Floor
$250,000.00
Opportunity No.
USDA-NRCS-NHQ-RCPPAFA-24-NOFO0001355

Agency

Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS)

Eligible Applicants

Small Businesses

Funding Category

Natural Resources

Funding Instrument

Other

Opportunity Category

Discretionary

Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement

Yes

Summary

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2024. This program aims to promote the coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. The RCPP seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that provide solutions to conservation challenges and improve resource concerns. The program is open to small businesses and various organizations, including agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, state or local governments, Indian tribes, farmer cooperatives, water districts, and institutions of higher education. The funding opportunity provides up to $1.5 billion for RCPP projects, with a focus on climate-smart agriculture and forestry conservation activities. Proposals must be submitted through the RCPP portal by July 2, 2024. For more information and to apply, interested applicants are encouraged to contact the appropriate state conservationists and state RCPP coordinators or visit the NRCS RCPP website.

Description

Federal Awarding Agency Name: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Funding Opportunity Title: Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2024 Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NRCS-NHQ-RCPPAFA-24-NOFO0001355 Assistance Listing: 10.932, Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Due Date: NRCS must receive proposals by 4:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 2, 2024. Note: The RCPP AFA and Classic FY 2024 notices of funding opportunity (NFO) will run concurrently. For information on Classic proposals please see USDA-NRCS-NHQ-RCPP-24-NOFO0001354. The RCPP promotes the coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value‑added contributions to expand our ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through the RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that provide solutions to conservation challenges thereby measurably improving the resource concerns they seek to address. RCPP promotes collaboration with partners, stakeholders, and various communities, which is paramount to achieving equity in NRCS programs and services. Using guidance contained in this notice, partners propose projects that generate conservation benefits by addressing specific natural resource concerns in a state or multistate area or by addressing one or more priority resource concerns within an NRCS-designated critical conservation area (CCA). NRCS and partners collaborate to design, promote, and implement RCPP projects on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest land. Through RCPP, NRCS may provide both financial assistance (FA) and technical assistance (TA) funds to project partners and agricultural producers for implementing projects. RCPP proposals are evaluated through a competitive proposal process based on three criteria: impact, partner contributions, and partnership and management. Up to $1.5 billion is available for RCPP projects through this announcement and the FY 2024 Classic announcement, which includes $300 million of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) funding and $1.2 billion of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding. Proposals will be accepted from all 50 States, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and U.S. territories in the Pacific Island Areas (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). NRCS will prioritize using IRA funds for projects that will implement climate-smart agriculture and forestry conservation activities as described in section F.3.a. of this announcement. Up to $100 million is being made available specifically for NRCS to enter into programmatic partnership agreements with Indian tribes. This set aside will be shared by this announcement and the FY 2024 Classic announcement. Any unused funds may be available for other partnership agreements. RCPP AFAs are intended to support project structures and approaches that cannot be carried out as effectively through the RCPP Classic NFO. RCPP AFA applicants must describe the innovative nature of the conservation approach they are proposing to justify potential funding through an RCPP AFA NFO rather than an RCPP Classic NFO. Moreover, applicants should consider the additional administrative and technical assistance responsibilities that accompany receipt of an RCPP AFA award. The 2018 Farm Bill provides the following 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; and projects that seek large-scale infrastructure investments that generate conservation benefits for agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forest owners. Although RCPP AFA provides flexibilities to partners, these projects share the overarching focus of RCPP, which is to engage with producers and landowners to implement conservation practices, systems, and approaches on (or for the benefit of) agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. NRCS can make up to 15 awards through this funding opportunity through Farm Bill funding. This limit does not apply to projects funded through the Inflation Reduction Act. Submissions: Proposals must be submitted through the RCPP portal. See section E of this announcement for information on using the RCPP portal to submit proposals. Access to the RCPP portal requires a level 2 eAuthentication credential or a Login.gov credential. Obtaining a new Login.gov credential involves multiple steps and can take several days to complete. Instructions are posted on the How to Apply to RCPP web page listed below. For More Information: Applicants are expected to contact the appropriate state conservationists and state RCPP coordinators prior to submitting a proposal. NRCS will use a state conservation questionnaire to record the results of these conversations. Proposals without a completed questionnaire may have their score and ranking reduced. A list of state RCPP coordinators (as of the date of this announcement’s posting) is on the NRCS How to Apply to RCPP web page. Applicants can also email the RCPP inbox (rcpp@usda.gov) with any questions about the announcement. The NRCS RCPP website is also a great source of current information about the program. Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in one or more of the webinars below to learn about the program and how to apply. 2024 RCPP NFO Applicant Outreach Webinar This webinar will provide general information for applicants submitting proposals for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The same material will be covered at both webinars followed by a question-and-answer section. Please refer to the RCPP website for more information. Regional Conservation Partnership Program Natural Resources Conservation Service (usda.gov) April 23, 2024, RCPP Applicant Outreach Webinar Registration Link – 2pm to 4pm EDT - https://events.gcc.teams.microsoft.com/event/e2f45f75-7ea4-410b-b1c9-567537cd2454@ed5b36e7-01ee-4ebc-867e-e03cfa0d4697 May 30, 2024, RCPP Applicant Outreach Webinar Registration Link – 2pm to 4pm EDT - https://events.gcc.teams.microsoft.com/event/226dcb51-0b57-43b1-b340-95e535238713@ed5b36e7-01ee-4ebc-867e-e03cfa0d4697 NRCS will schedule additional webinars on RCPP easements and providing outreach to tribal applicants. Information on all webinars will be posted to the RCPP how to apply page.

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Opportunity Lifecycle

Title
Type
Grant