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USDA expanding poverty reduction initiative

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - Counties in Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia are joining a federal program designed to help persistently poor rural communities take advantage of government resources.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call that the StrikeForce initiative has helped to support more than 80,000 projects since it began in 2010. Those projects include home and business loans, natural resources conservation and food assistance.

Although the loans and assistance aren't new, the initiative helps people take advantage of them in the communities where they are most needed. Vilsack said many USDA programs are underutilized, so money that could be spent in rural communities ends up going back to Washington, D.C.

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