Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced 26 projects in 15 states that will help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). CCPI helps agricultural producers achieve natural resource benefits such as clean air, clean water, productive soils, and abundant wildlife.

"USDA and the Obama administration are committed to preserving our natural resources by enhancing conservation efforts on private lands," Vilsack. "Through this unique partnership program, USDA is able to utilize the resources and capabilities of non-federal partners along with USDA technical and financial resources to implement conservation on working farms, ranches, and forest lands."

USDA will provide nearly $7 million in financial assistance in fiscal year 2010 through CCPI, which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CCPI works through three existing programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) — to leverage additional services and resources from non-federal partners.

With the announcement of the partnership agreements today, individual farmers and ranchers located in approved project areas may now apply through their local NRCS office for financial and technical assistance. These farmers and ranchers can use this assistance to address conservation priorities; meet federal, state, and local regulatory requirements related to production; cooperate to install and maintain conservation practices; and develop and demonstrate innovative conservation practices and delivery methods.

To become conservation partners, applicants submitted proposals to help enhance conservation on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. Eligible entities included federally recognized Indian tribes, state and local units of government, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, higher education institutions, and nongovernmental organizations with a history of working cooperatively with producers. Partner proposals were selected competitively based on previously identified criteria. Potential partners were not required to provide matching funding but increased their chance of selection by providing financial, technical or other resources.

Below is the list of approved CCPI projects and fiscal year 2010 program funding by state

California has seven projects slated, with $2,495,017 in funding.

Arizona has a single multi-state project shared with New Mexico — and funding of $800,000.