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Minnesota Conservation Leaders Celebrate $25 Million Federal Grant to Accelerate Soil Health Practices

Bloomington, Minn. – Conservationists from across the state celebrated a new $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at a signing ceremony with state and federal officials Tuesday. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant will be used to accelerate soil health practices through partnerships with the state’s soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs).

NRCS State Conservationist Troy Daniell, Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) President Chuck Rau and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) Executive Director John Jaschke celebrated with a signing ceremony at the MASWCD convention, an annual gathering Minnesota SWCDs and conservation partners.

The Advancing Soil Health in Minnesota Agriculture project will offer financial incentives to producers for implementing soil health best management practices and systems such as no-till, strip-till, rotational grazing and cover crops. SWCDs advance soil health practices by building trusted partnerships with private landowners who will access the funds.

“Achieving our shared soil health goals requires partnerships on every level,” said Rau. “But it’s the SWCDs building connections with landowners in their communities and providing technical expertise to create soil health projects that makes a difference in getting these projects on the ground.”

The grant is part of a recent announcement of $1.2 billion in RCPP funding that includes funding authority under the Inflation Reduction Act set aside for climate-smart agriculture. BWSR will administer the funds and make them available for eligible local projects.

“Minnesota has an opportunity to lead the nation in what soil health can do for sustainability, climate resiliency and economic security for our farmers. Through local expertise and leadership, districts and NRCS staff are ready to help them make this soil health transition,” said Daniell.

The RCPP takes a voluntary approach to expand the reach of conservation efforts and climate-smart agriculture through public-private partnerships. Minnesota’s project will focus on soil health, as outlined in the state’s Climate Action Framework.

“We are well-positioned to make this program successful and scale soil health practices in Minnesota,” Jaschke said. “And that’s in large part due to our collaboration for conservation delivery. Today, we recognize and celebrate that partnership and our intent to continue working together.”

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