BISMARCK, ND, Mar 26, 2013 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the launch of its “StrikeForce” initiative in North Dakota. The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to increase partnerships with targeted persistent poverty communities across the country. Over 90 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America. The targeted areas for North Dakota include Benson, Rolette and Sioux counties along with the tribal nations of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Spirit Lake Tribe and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Despite North Dakota’s overall economic prosperity, the targeted regions are areas of persistently high poverty where official unemployment rates are as high as 15% and actual unemployment may be even higher.
“We place a high value on the partnership we have with our tribal communities and the investments USDA has made,” said Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development state director. “Secretary Vilsack’s StrikeForce initiative will further those efforts by focusing all of USDA to increase outreach, provide more technical assistance and help communities leverage resources.”
The “StrikeForce” initiative started in 2010 as a pilot project in three states and has expanded to 16 states, including North Dakota. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs, and help build program participation that will promote economic development and job creation. Participants in the StrikeForce include the USDA mission areas of: the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency, the Food and Nutrition Service and other USDA offices and agencies.