November 29, 2010
On Monday, November 29, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of up to $43 million in FY 2011 funding for existing conservation projects to improve water quality in forty-one priority watersheds through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), administered by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The funding will be available to support more than seventy existing projects in twelve states.
NRCS also published its FY 2011 request for proposals (RFP) for new MRBI projects in the Federal Register today. NRCS will make available $40 million for new projects in forty-three designated focus areas in thirteen States.
The FY 2011 RFP calls for eligible partners (tribes, state and local governments, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, institutions of higher education, and nongovernmental organizations) to submit new MRBI project proposals under the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) and the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) before January 28, 2011. Eligible partners should see the RFP for instructions on how to submit a proposal.
Of the $40 million in MRBI funding for new projects, up to $15 million will be available through CCPI and up to $25 million will be available through WREP.
Eligible partners must submit separate proposals for CCPI and WREP. Higher priority will be given to projects that integrate both CCPI and WREP. Individual agricultural producers are not eligible to submit MRBI proposals directly; however, once MRBI projects have been approved through CCPI or WREP, producers can apply for funding through EQIP, CSP, WHIP, or WRP.
Under MRBI, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance for conservation projects in priority watersheds in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MRBI is implemented through existing NRCS programs, including EQIP, WHIP, and CSP, which collectively supply the funding for CCPI projects, and the WRP.
USDA expects to provide about $320 million in financial assistance from 2010-2013 for voluntary conservation projects in these priority watersheds.