The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced funding for Accelerating Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans, a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project led by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). The project will boost implementation of conservation measures to meet resource protection and nutrient reduction goals of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

NRCS will provide $5.5 million in funding to assist landowners in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware over five years through RCPP, which will leverage another $8.5 million in contributions from MDA and additional state and private partners.

“RCPP brings together partners like the Maryland Department of Agriculture to design conservation projects that are tailored to our needs here in Maryland,” said Terron Hillsman, Ph.D., Maryland State Conservationist. “This project leverages significant funding to help farmers tackle some of our biggest natural resource challenges in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP is USDA’s new, innovative program that promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. Accelerating Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans is one of six RCPP projects impacting Maryland.

“The Maryland Department of Agriculture is pleased to partner with NRCS on this project to address animal waste management concerns in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and help farmers implement practices to avoid winter application of manure,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “RCPP allows us to increase assistance our farmers need to meet the water quality goals in the region.”

Nearly $2.1 million is now available in Maryland to help farmers implement animal waste management conservation practices. Producers that are interested in waste storage facilities, ag waste pumping plants, heavy use areas, and solid/liquid waste separation facilities are encouraged to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply.

Interested producers must submit an application on or before July 17, 2015. Applications are available at your local USDA Service Center and here.