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Low attendance at StrikeForce meeting reveals a lack of knowledge about USDA programs

John Zippert, director of program operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, speaks during the StrikeForce Initiative outreach meeting Thursday evening in Selma. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

John Zippert, director of program operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, speaks during the StrikeForce Initiative outreach meeting Thursday evening in Selma. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Regardless of where you live or what you do for a living, there will be hard times in your life.

Whether you are a banker on Wall Street or a ditch digger in Death Valley, you are going to fall on hard times at some point.

This fact certainly holds true for farmers working the land in Alabama’s soil-rich Black Belt.

And just as there are other programs to provide temporary assistance to others in need, the United States Department of Agriculture has a number programs aimed at providing financial assistance to farmers throughout the Black Belt.

Last Thursday, the Alabama StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity — the entity charged with spreading the word about the various USDA programs — held a meeting at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-Op in Selma.

To say the meeting drew a small crowd would be correct.

Roughly half-a-dozen local farmers attended to learn how the federal government could help them pay for countless improvements and upgrades to their farms.

“Obviously, we don’t have everybody here tonight who needs these programs,” said John Zippert, director of program operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund. “But we hope everyone who is here can spread the word.”

Many of us in Selma know at least one person who spends their days cultivating crops around Dallas County. Shouldn’t we make sure they know about the opportunities available to them through the USDA?

When our farms are stronger, we are stronger. It just makes sense. Now, let’s spread the word.