Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be at Voorhees College in Denmark Tuesday morning to announce the launch by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of its ”StrikeForce” initiative in 10 additional states, including South Carolina.
Joining Vilsack for the 9 a.m. announcement at Massachusetts Hall with be Congressman James E. Clyburn.
Vilsack will highlight the critical need for increased partnership efforts with rural communities to address the challenges they face.
Every day, the USDA provides assistance to help grow American agriculture and provide tools to increase opportunity for rural communities. Unfortunately, 90 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America.
USDA’s StrikeForce aims to increase investment in rural communities with technical assistance and other resources in poverty-stricken communities.
USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity is just getting started. In the past three years, the results of the efforts have already been seen. Examples include:
* In 2012, the Farm Service Agency saw an increase in the total direct farm loan applications received in StrikeForce areas, from 1,760 in 2011 to 1,913 in 2012. This increase was notable in 2012 as nationwide applications were down 10 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.
* In the Natural Resource Conservation Service, program applications by under-served producers last year increased by 82 percent in StrikeForce areas.
* In 2012, USDA increased the number of children receiving food assistance through the Summer Food Service Program in StrikeForce states from 10.5 million to 11.3 million.