USDA's StrikeForce Initiative expansion kicks off in West Virginia
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NRCS expecting additional funding to assist 29 counties across the state
MORGANTOWN, WV, March 14, 2014 -The U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary, Dr. Gregory Parham officially kicked off the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s StrikeForce initiative at an event in Morgantown, March 14. Earlier this year, West Virginia along with Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee were added to the program.
USDA established the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative in 2010 to work with community based organizations, state based agencies and local partners to increase economic opportunities in rural counties suffering persistent poverty.
“StrikeForce is about rural development and an opportunity for USDA to use our vast resources with already existing programs through local partners,” said Parham. “Growth and opportunity are key for rural community vitality. It is USDA’s responsibility to be advocates and address poverty issues in America.”
Today, more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs, tribal reservations, and Colonias in 20 states have been identified as sub-county pockets of poverty. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of available assistance programs and increase participation through intensive community outreach.
“Having the StrikeForce initiative kick-off here is another example of USDA’s commitment to providing support and targeted technical assistance to local communities,” said Kevin Wickey, NRCS State Conservationist. “NRCS is proud to collaborate with Rural Development, Farm Service Agency and other USDA agencies to find positive solutions for the 29 counties in West Virginia most in need of support and services.”
The impacted counties are Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Hampshire, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Nichols, Pleasants, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wirt, and Wyoming counties.
NRCS anticipates receivingadditional funds for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for StrikeForce related contracts. The focus is on building and maintaining seasonal high tunnels. High tunnels can extend the growing season for high value crops in a way safe to the environment. This conservation practice has the bonus of economic growth for new and existing producers to have crops year round for purchase.
Existing EQIP applications for seasonal high tunnels within the 29 counties are eligible, and additional sign-up will continue until April 18, 2014. All Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) applications for seasonal high tunnels will be switched to EQIP. Applicants may contact the nearestNRCS field office for more information.
Visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/wv/home/ or www.usda.gov/StrikeForce for more information.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forestland owners conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions which benefit both the landowner and the environment. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 1-866-632-9992 (Toll-Free Customer Service), 1-800-877-8339 (Local or Federal Relay) or 1-866-377-8642 (Relay Voice Users).