|May 15, 2013 --
South Dakota USDA Officials welcomed USDA Tammye Trevino, USDA Rural Development’s Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities, to South Dakota and to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservation to discuss StrikeForce and homeownership. State Director Elsie Meeks addressed community members and partnering organizations attending a Homebuyers Fair that was held prior to the StrikeForce Roundtable.
“It was wonderful to have Administrator Tammye Trevino visit South Dakota and spend time touring the many projects that Rural Development contributes to. I believe that she could see first-hand the valuable partnerships that have been created with organizations such as the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Council, Housing Authority, GROW South Dakota, and Homes Are Possible, Inc.,” Meeks states. “The StrikeForce initiative implemented by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlights those partnerships as well as empowers additional USDA guidance and technical assistance on South Dakota tribal lands”.
A StrikeForce Roundtable was held with tribal council members, area producers, nonprofit organizations and community members in attendance to hear program presentations from South Dakota Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency and Rural Development.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assistant State Conservationist, Curtis Elke, discussed increased opportunities for those working with the land as well as funding options through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. There are six NRCS Tribal Liaisons available across the state to assist with questions.
“90 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural America. USDA's StrikeForce aims to increase assistance in these poverty-stricken rural communities. It is critical for our agency to locate persistent poverty-stricken communities and identify the underserved clients that reside in them. We must learn to communicate effectively and gain their trust to not only improve their natural resources but also improve the quality of their lives and the community they live in. Partnering with community based organizations, grassroots partners and other USDA agencies only strengthen the positive impact that can be made in these areas”, Elke states.
Deb Olerud from the Farm Service Agency provided information regarding the FSA Beginner and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers loans and guarantees as well at the meeting.
USDA partners with rural communities and regions on locally-supported projects. USDA takes steps, in partnership with the community, to provide technical assistance and explanation as needed to ensure that communities can fully access USDA programs.