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News Release

Puerto Rico Joins USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth & Opportunity

Contact:
José A. Castro, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
787-766-5206 x117 or 787-501-6144


PR Agriculture Secretary Dr. Myrna Comas welcomes USDA and guests to La Fortaleza Peoples Garden.

NRCS Releases $250,000 in additional conservation funds to reduce On-farm Energy Costs and boost specialty crop production with Seasonal High Tunnels

San Juan, PR, April 22, 2015 – Yesterday, Puerto Rico joined 21 states receiving targeted assistance from USDA to address rural poverty. USDA officials from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD), joined Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Wilma Pastrana-Jiménez, and PR Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Myrna Comas, at Finca González in Guánica to announce the expansion of USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Puerto Rico. This announcement enables USDA agencies to address chronic rural poverty on the island by working with community partners to create jobs, feed kids, assist farmers, secure safe homes and conserve natural resources.

NRCS-CB Director Edwin Almodóvar announces additional EQIP funds during La Fortaleza Earth Day event

NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar, announces increased EQIP funds for limited resource farmers during La Fortaleza Earth Day celebration.

To support StrikeForce goals, NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar, today announced that the agency will increase this year’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by $250,000 to fund 45 additional conservation contracts for underserved farmers. This supplemental EQIP allocation will fund 30 additional On-Farm Energy Initiative applications and 15 additional Seasonal High Tunnel applications.

This additional funding will greatly help to extend our program assistance to help limited resource farmers conserve and protect Puerto Rico’s natural resources,” Said Director Almodóvar.

The release of additional EQIP funds was announced at today’s Earth Day celebration led by Puerto Rico First Lady, Mrs. Wilma Pastrana Jiménez, at the La Fortaleza People’s Garden. Caribbean Area NRCS, FSA and RD staff hosted Elvis Cordova, USDA Deputy Secretary for AMS and USDA Representative to the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico; Max Finberg, USDA StrikeForce National Coordinator; and Patricia Dombroski, USDA FNS Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator at today’s event.

In 2010, Secretary Vilsack established the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to address the specific challenges associated with rural poverty. Using data from the National Census, USDA state-based leadership identified specific rural areas enduring the worst chronic poverty in need of StrikeForce attention. StrikeForce teams have facilitated collaboration with more than 500 community partners and public entities to bring targeted assistance to these areas. Through StrikeForce efforts, USDA has invested over $16.5 billion in specific efforts to stimulate chronic rural economies.

For more information on NRCS efforts with StrikeForce in Puerto Rico, contact José A. Castro, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, at 787-766-5206 x117 or 787-501-6144. More information about USDA's StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, including state maps, fact sheets and resources, is available at www.usda.gov/strikeforce.

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