ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 20, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that $15 million in targeted assistance will be provided to help farmers, ranchers and private forest owners in rural areas of 20 states that experience “persistent poverty.” 

The funding,  part of USDA’s StrikeForce initiative, was announced on the Secretary’s behalf by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller during a visit to predominantly Native American and Hispanic American communities in New Mexico. 

“This funding, leveraged with the support of public and local partners, is growing rural economies,” Weller said. “This is a strategy that creates sustainable jobs and improves lives in rural communities across the country and right here in New Mexico. USDA’s StrikeForce helps producers improve their lands and provides a way to break the cycle of rural poverty.” 

Through NRCS, USDA will provide technical and financial assistance in StrikeForce areas, including $450,000 in rural New Mexico. Weller said that through StrikeForce USDA is now working with 80 percent more farmers and ranchers than before in persistent poverty counties and has invested a total of $652 million in targeted conservation funding since 2010.

StrikeForce funds, provided through the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program, can be used for conservation activities, including water conservation improvements and soil protection. Applications are accepted at local USDA Service Centers.

USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity provides assistance in rural communities with a special emphasis on historically underserved farmers, ranchers and communities in counties with persistent poverty.  More than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs and tribal reservations are part of the StrikeForce effort, in 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.


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