The Strike Force Initiative, a project to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas, started as a pilot project in 2010 in regions of Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.
In 2011, the project expanded to Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. This year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the project will expand into Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
To identify sub-county pockets of poverty, the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies census tracts with more than 20-percent poverty. Once those areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness and build participation in USDA programs.
Since the project began, USDA has partnered with over 400 local community-based organizations to promote local or regional development projects.
Vilsack says Strike Force is helping improve the quality of life of producers and their communities - while also accelerating the implementation of conservation practices on their land.