4:45 pm - Tuesday December 12, 2017

USDA Shares Strikeforce Initiative Message during Colorado’s 2013 Governor’s Ag Forum

USDA Shares Strikeforce Initiative Message during

 Colorado’s 2013 Governor’s Ag Forum

 “It was my mom who saw the USDA Strikeforce exhibit first and she told me to go check it out,” said 16 year-old Leigha Filla of Akron, Colorado.  “My interest in agriculture grew as I began to understand more about my family’s honey farm.  After that, I was hooked and looked for opportunities to learn more.  That’s how I found Future Farmers of America (FFA).  FFA provides a lot of benefits and one includes attending this year’s Governor’s Ag Forum, which is where I saw the Strikeforce display.  I’d like to pursue a career in ag communications or advocacy and that desire was only confirmed after visiting the USDA Strikeforce booth. I was thrilled to learn about USDA’s initiative and how it was aimed at increasing awareness within highly populated Hispanic and other underserved communities.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) agencies recently joined forces during the 2013 Colorado’s Governor’s Ag Forum to staff a booth and spread the word about the Department’s Strikeforce outreach initiative which is aimed at better serving persistently impoverished communities and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.   USDA piloted the Strikeforce Initiative in 2010 in Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi, and in 2011 it was expanded to the southwest adding Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Strikeforce allows USDA to illustrate its commitment to improving access to USDA programs while enhancing the visibility and profitability of small farms and ranches, beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.  It also provides the opportunity to promote and assist in the development and sustainability of rural communities, recognizing that 90% of all persistently impoverished communities are in rural areas.

“USDA’s Strikeforce campaign provides an opportunity for Hispanics to not only understand what assistance and opportunities USDA has, but also it shows them that they can be involved in agriculture beyond their traditional roles such as laborers.  It helps them break down self-imposed stereotypes,” Filla goes on to say.

The Initiative works to provide technical expertise about USDA’s regulations, criteria, and programs managed and administered by its agencies like FSA and RD, in addition to notifying communities of new and updated programs to bring about quality applications for enrollment into technical and financial assistance programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA) both managed and administered by the NRCS.

“Since its implementation in the State, NRCS in collaboration with other USDA agencies have hosted numerous Strikeforce workshops around the state.  As a result of those and other efforts, we’ve received 304 applications from traditionally underserved applicants who had never before participated in any NRCS administered program and saw an overall increase in the number of applications for enrollment into Farm Bill programs from traditionally underserved producers from 2,155 applicants in 2011 statewide to over 3,606 applicants in 2012 in the Strikeforce counties,” Stated Phyllis Ann Philipps, NRCS State Conservationist, Colorado.

Strikeforce priority areas in Colorado include:  Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Cheyenne, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Delta, Denver, Dolores, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Huerfano, Jefferson, Kiowa, La Plata, Lake, Larimer, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Juan, Sedgwick, Teller, Washington, Weld, and Yuma Counties.

“I hope everyone understands importance of initiatives like Strikeforce.  I sure do, because as a young Hispanic woman, I am proud and interested in ag and hope to be successful in advocating for the industry and minorities.  These kinds of initiatives confirm that agriculture is the right industry for me,” Filla finally states.

For additional information about the USDA Strikeforce Initiative, please contact Omelia Madison, NRCS Outreach Coordinator, at Omelia.Madison@co.usda.gov or 720-544-2826.









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