American Farmland Trust, which is devoted to farm and ranch land protection, today endorsed the launch of the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program calling on the farm conservation community to help implement the new policy.

“AFT has long supported partnerships to encourage agricultural conservation practices and applauds the leadership of Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, who announced the program today,” said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of American Farmland Trust.

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is a fresh approach to providing funding to help farmers protect and restore the soil, water and the other natural resources they rely on for their livelihoods,” said McElwaine. “By encouraging regional partnerships, RCPP not only focuses attention on areas where these sound conservation practices are needed, it will also leverage funding from other sources, critically important during these times of scarce economic resources.”

USDA expects over $400 million will be available in the first full year of the program through this competitive application process. Eight regional Critical Conservation Areas were also created by USDA: Chesapeake Bay Watershed; Great Lakes Region; Mississippi River Basin; Colorado River Basin; Longleaf Pine Range; Columbia River Basin; Prairie Grasslands; and California Bay Delta.

“We look forward to working with USDA, farmers and other stakeholders to help make sure this program is a success,” said McElwaine. “We also call on Congress to appropriate full funding for this program as authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.”

Details on how to apply are available at: USDA has also created a special video on the new program:

The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

American Farmland Trust will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in Lexington, Kentucky on October 20-22. Visit for more information.

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Source: American Farmland Trust news release