A national initiative rolled out in some states already — and just recently announced for Missouri — will be introduced next week at five locations, including Houston.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) will host StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative meetings in five southern Missouri locations. The Houston meeting is scheduled for 9:30–11:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Houston Storm Shelter.

Meetings are open to the public and provide attendees with an overview of Strike Force while allowing time for questions from the audience.

The goal of StrikeForce, launched in 2010, is to reduce poverty through investment in rural communities and increase opportunities for farmers. To date, more than 1,500 StrikeForce partnerships have helped USDA support nearly 190,000 projects and invest $23.5 billion in high-poverty areas of 26 states with StrikeForce designation. Forty-six counties in Missouri, including Texas, were designated for the StrikeForce Initiative in 2016.

“StrikeForce builds on existing partnerships in rural communities and allows USDA to bring economic opportunities directly to rural Missourians,” State Conservationist J.R. Flores said. “Working together with FSA and RD, we can assist in areas that include agricultural loans and financial assistance to producers, assistance with locally-led food production efforts and farmers markets, and community-based organizations working with poverty issues.”

Topics of discussion may include broadband networks for rural communities, rural community economic development, improving soil and water conservation efforts, assisting with locally led food initiatives and farmers markets, forest health and management, farm lending and equipment loans and rural housing.

For more information on StrikeForce, visit the Missouri NRCS website at www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the NRCS office serving Texas County.

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