Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces Expansion of USDA's StrikeForce Initiative in Ohio
State will receive enhanced assistance for Rural Opportunity
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 15, 2016 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the expansion of USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative to 11 counties in Ohio. StrikeForce is a collaborative effort to bring targeted assistance to areas experiencing chronic poverty. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at a Rural Opportunity Town Hall at the Ohio State University.
Currently, 85 percent of our country's persistent poverty counties are in rural America. More than one-third of rural Americans and one-in-four rural children live in poverty. Research has shown that even kids growing up in families earning as much as twice the poverty threshold are still nearly three times as likely as all other children to have poor health, are more likely to finish two fewer years of school, and are more likely to learn earn half as much money in their adult life.
"Growing the economy by investing in rural communities, farmers, makers and innovators, and increasing opportunities for families are keys to our Nation's future," said Vilsack. "StrikeForce has proven to be an effective, collaborative process that builds partnerships and enables USDA to bring economic opportunity directly to rural Americans where they live and helps rural communities leverage their assets."
USDA launched StrikeForce in 2010 and has since invested $23.5 billion in high-poverty areas to increase opportunity for rural Americans. The initiative has helped deliver promising, sustainable results through partnerships with more than 1,500 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities, faith-based and other community groups nationwide; and provided enhanced technical assistance to assist disadvantaged communities build a future based on local assets and regional strengths. As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to address persistent poverty across America, StrikeForce has sustained nationwide partnerships supporting nearly 190,000 projects to date.
Since 2009, USDA has invested over $36.8 billion in Ohio, bringing transformative change to millions of rural businesses, communities and families across the state. To date, USDA's investments in Ohio have helped develop strong local and regional food systems so farmers and ranchers can bring fresh food to local tables or export abroad; helped thousands of Ohioans become homeowners with low-interest loans; ensured millions of children and families have access to nutritious foods in school and at home; supported conservation practices on millions of acres of private lands and protecting watersheds and natural resources with long-lasting partnerships; managed thousands of acres of national forests and grasslands for recreation and cleaner water and air; and created new jobs by investing in the growth of Ohio's new bio-economy and much-needed improvements to state infrastructure, including electricity, broadband, water and community facilities.
In addition to expanding StrikeForce to include counties in Ohio, USDA has made the following investments in Ohio since 2009:
- Farming and ranching: More than $5 billion to help ensure access to credit, support a strong farm safety net, and promote new markets for farm and ranch products
- Conservation: $828 million in efforts to conserve and protect Ohio's land, water and air resources
- Infrastructure: $952 million to build and update the state's electricity, broadband and telecommunications, water and wastewater, and construct community facilities like fire stations and libraries
- Nutrition: Over 1 million children provided with healthy, nutritious meals in Ohio schools through the National School Lunch Program each year
- Research: More than $275.5 million to support research in Ohio to adapt to the effects of climate change, ensure food security and improve our food, agricultural and natural resources systems
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
Altogether, 970 counties, parishes, boroughs, and census areas in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia are now eligible for "intensive care" through StrikeForce.
StrikeForce counties in Ohio include: Adams County, Athens County, Fayette County, Guernsey County, Jackson County, Lucas County, Meigs County, Morgan County, Pike County, Scioto County and Vinton County.
To learn more about USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative, visit www.usda.gov/StrikeForce.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).