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News Release

USDA is Making Targeted Investments in Conservation to Help Farmers in Impoverished Communities This Year

      

Contact:

Chris Groskreutz

(706) 546-2069

USDA is Making Targeted Investments in Conservation to Help Farmers in Impoverished Communities This Year

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ATHENS, GA  May 23, 2014USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will target more than $1.5 million this year in technical and financial conservation assistance for Georgia farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in persistent poverty rural areas.

StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity is a USDA effort that focuses high-priority assistance in rural communities in 20 states with a special emphasis on historically underserved farmers, ranchers and communities in counties with persistent poverty. Since 2010, USDA has partnered through StrikeForce with more than 400 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 80,300 projects and usher more than $9.7 billion in investments into rural America.  Georgia has been there from the start, serving as one of the original pilot states.

“Although USDA is always available to help these producers, the targeted funding through StrikeForce, along with the pooling of  public resources and local expertise, is continuing to grow rural economies,” said Georgia’s Acting State Conservationist, Greg Kist. “This is a strategy that is working in rural America, and I am pleased that we continue to build on these efforts to bring assistance to Georgia’s 60-county StrikeForce region that needs it the most. ”

Georgia StrikeForce RegionThrough StrikeForce, NRCS is now working with 80 percent more farmers and ranchers in the identified persistent poverty counties and has invested a total of $652 million in targeted conservation funding since 2010.

“StrikeForce provides an important opportunity to help producers in these priority areas improve their lands or start a career in agriculture,” Georgia StrikeForce Coordinator and State Public Affairs Specialist, Chris Groskreutz said. “Thanks to the efforts of our outreach partners and field office staff in recent years, we have seen tremendous growth in this initiative and look forward to helping even more producers adopt conservation measures with these StrikeForce dedicated funds. ”

 Producers can visit their local USDA Service Center and apply anytime for StrikeForce conservation assistance through the 2014 Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Producers can work with NRCS on a number of conservation activities, including:  installing cross-fencing to protect soil and help cattle; using prescribed burning to enhance a forest; or installing a more efficient irrigation system to conserve water.

“Conservation efforts help producers make a living while promoting clean air and water, healthy soil and wildlife habitat,” Kist said. “These practices also give long-term resistance to extreme weather events, including drought and flooding. ”

Targeting more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs and tribal reservations in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia, StrikeForce is creating conservation opportunities in rural communities and tribes across the nation. For more information about StrikeForce accomplishments, visit the NRCS StrikeForce webpage or your local NRCS office.

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