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News Release

Release No. 0520.04
Contact:
Julie Quick (202) 720-4623
Mary Cressel (202) 690-0547

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USDA PROVIDES UP TO $1 MILLION AND REQUESTS PROPOSALS FOR CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP INITIATIVE GRANTS

WASHINGTON, Dec.17, 2004-Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that up to $1 million is available in fiscal year 2005 Conservation Partnership Initiative (CPI) grants for state and local governments, tribes and nongovernmental 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 and airsheds of special significance. In recent years, the term airshed has been used to describe a geographical area that shares the same air mass due to topography, meteorology and climate. The grants also support the President's executive order promoting cooperative conservation.

"This program helps farmers and ranchers achieve critical conservation goals and protect natural resources. These grants encourage partnerships to devise and implement regional solutions to pressing natural resource priorities associated with agriculture and rural settings," Veneman said.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that is available on the agency's website and the Federal eGrants website at http://www.grants.gov. Applicants will have 60 days to submit proposals. Funds will be awarded through a nationwide competition.

CPI is carried out through two phases. First, applicants must submit proposals for project planning funds to the appropriate NRCS state office. Applicants may request between $50,000 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 five CPI conservation priorities for 2005: terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat, invasive species, agricultural air quality, 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 project planning and the establishment of project goals, as well as 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, and Development and demonstration of innovative conservation methods.

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, the project implementation phase may begin. Applicants are expected to secure project implementation funds from a wide range of potential partners including local, state and Federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

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