TCS submitted comments to the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s announcement of how it intends to implement the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) after Congress directed changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Through the RCPP, the NRCS works with farmers and ranchers to provide assistance on conservation practices within eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCA). Projects are prioritized based on their measure to achieve environmental outcomes, and funding for projects is competitive.
The interim rule for the RCPP in the 2018 Farm Bill fails to maximize taxpayer and producer return on investment. It allows the NRCS Chief to waive the payment limit and means test, which would concentrate benefits on a smaller number of farming and ranching businesses. The rule also fails to make soil health a priority resource concern within the Mississippi River Basin. Increased soil health within the region will lead to less runoff into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
RCPP offers farmers and ranchers, as well as taxpayers, the opportunity to make more resilient agricultural operations while also protecting the environment. But elements of NRCS’s plan may reduce the program’s effectiveness for both taxpayers and farmers and ranchers.
Download or read our comments below.