Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced that USDA will make up to $1 million available for Conservation Partnership Initiative grants for state and local governments, tribes and non-governmental organizations that have a history of working with agricultural producers.

CPI is a voluntary program that fosters conservation partnerships and funds projects that focus technical and financial resources on conservation priorities in watersheds of special significance and other geographic areas of environmental sensitivity. The grants will be available for the remainder of fiscal 2004.

“This program assists farmers and ranchers in achieving critical conservation goals and the protection of natural resources,” said Veneman. “These grants encourage partnerships to devise and implement watershed or regional solutions to pressing natural resource priorities associated with agriculture and rural settings.”

CPI is carried out in two phases. First, applicants must submit proposals for project planning funds to the appropriate NRCS state office. Applicants may request between $100,000 and $200,000 in funding through CPI for the project planning phase and must provide a 1:1 match using non-NRCS funding. Up to 100 percent of the match may come from in-kind contributions.

Applications must address at least one of the four CPI conservation priorities for 2004: terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat improvement, coastal resources conservation, livestock nutrient management and minor/specialty crop pest management.

In addition, CPI projects must be consistent with the following four CPI objectives. Projects must encourage:

  • Producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation practices that affect multiple agricultural operations.

  • Producers to share information and technical and financial resources.

  • Cumulative conservation benefits in geographic areas.

  • Development and demonstration of innovative conservation methods.

  • The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will issue a Request for Proposals that will be published on the agency's Web site and the federal eGrants Web site at http://www.grants.gov. Funds will be awarded through a nationwide competition.

Selected applicants will have up to 18 months to develop the partnership, generate producer interest and participation, and prepare a final project plan. Following completion and approval of the final project plan, phase two project implementation begins. Applicants are expected to secure project implementation funds from a wide range of potential partners including local, state and Federal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Additional information on CPI including the RFP is at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cpi.


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