Tuesday, March 26, 2013

USDA adds 10 states to program designed to help poverty-stricken rural counties

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that 10 states will be added to the StrikeForce initiative, a program designed to boost rural economic growth and opportunity in poverty-stricken rural areas. Ninety percent of America's persistent-poverty counties are in rural America.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia are the newest additions. Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi started the program in 2011, and Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in 2012, said a press release from USDA.

Through the program, Farm Service Agency loans have gone up almost 10 percent, the Rural Housing and Community Facilities Program obligated $65 million (a 112 percent increase over 2011), Natural Resources Conservation Service program applications by under-served producers increased by 82 percent, the number of children receiving free or reduced-price school breakfasts rose by 7.4 percent, and the number of children receiving food assistance through the Summer Food Service Program rose from 10.5 million to 11.3 million, according to the USDA website.

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