May 15, 2013

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

Congresswoman Sewell Promotes USDA StrikeForce Initiative

Contact: Fay Garner, Public Affairs Specialist



Auburn, Ala., May 15, 2013 - Congresswoman Terri Sewell, 7th Congressional District, joined USDA agency leaders and others at a meeting of the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity in Alabama. Over 90 people from around the state participated in the event held at the Central Alabama Farmers Cooperative in Selma, Alabama. The kickoff for the Initiative was held at Al Hooks’ Produce Farm in Macon County, Alabama, on May 2. 


Currently, 90 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural America. The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to partner with local and state governments and community organizations on projects that promote economic development and job creation.


Congresswoman Sewell said that her office is proud to be a partner in this Initiative to help elevate poverty.  She encouraged everyone to use the resources available to help in the 23 persistent poverty counties in the StrikeForce Initiative.  Eleven of these counties are in her District. 


“We want the success of your organizations to really reflect on the success of our State and this District,” Sewell said.  “What I love about the StrikeForce Initiative is its primary focus is leveraging public-private dollars which gives us a lot of opportunities to seek grants for public-private land, conservation, and many different sectors.”


Dr. Tammy Gray-Steele, Executive Director of the Oklahoma based National Women in Ag Association, spoke to the group about the importance of partnering with agricultural and community-based groups to provide vital opportunities for rural and urban communities.  She said it was important to make investments within communities to help move toward an authentic and sustainable future.


USDA leaders of the Alabama StrikeForce Initiative include the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency, the Food and Nutrition Service, and other USDA offices and state agencies.  At the meeting, representatives spoke about the investment in the Initiative and the need for involvement of community-based organizations to make it work.


The goals of the Alabama StrikeForce Initiative are:


·         Support economic viability

·         Promote food security

·         Expand program education

·         Remove barriers that limit goals 1, 2, and 3


“We are proud to welcome these groups today,” said State Food and Agriculture Council Chair and StrikeForce Lead Dr. William Puckett. “USDA in Alabama is actively involved in community outreach, service, and economic development.  We look forward to expanding this effort to help rebuild and revitalize rural communities.”  For more information on the Alabama StrikeForce Initiative, visit


U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack started the “StrikeForce” initiative as a pilot project in 2010 in selected regions in three states: Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi. In 2011 it was expanded to include Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. In 2013, Secretary Vilsack announced new efforts to bring the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

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