AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK HOLDS RURAL COMMUNITY FORUM IN KENTUCKY; LISTENS TO LOCAL RESIDENTS
Vilsack highlights USDA Recovery Act projects initiated in first 100 days
HARRODSBURG, Ky., May 27, 2009 — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today visited Kentucky and held a rural community forum to listen to comments and concerns of local residents, the fourth such forum he has done since being sworn in. Vilsack also highlighted accomplishments made in first 100 days since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
"As President Obama and I help rebuild and revitalize rural America, we want those affected by decisions made in Washington to be part of the process to develop innovative solutions and chart a path for these communities to participate in the new 21st century economy," said Vilsack.
Vilsack's visit to Kentucky today continues his listening tour in rural America. Previously, he visited Brush, Co., Portageville, Mo., and Ludowici, Ga.
At today's rural community forum, Vilsack discussed how the USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Under his leadership, the USDA is working to promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply, ensure that America leads the global fight against climate change, and revitalize rural communities by expanding economic opportunities.
Vilsack also noted several American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) efforts that are underway in Kentucky and across the country including:
The Farm Service Agency is working to distribute millions of dollars allocated in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program. So far, 101 Kentucky farmers have been awarded more than $3.7 million in loans.
USDA's Single Family Housing program is actively supporting Kentucky households and to date has obligated more than $86 million for 829 families to receive Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loans as well as $2.8 million for 25 Single Family Housing Direct Loans.
USDA's Water and Waste Disposal program is making nearly $19 million for six Kentucky water and waste disposal projects.
USDA's U.S. Forest Service in Kentucky received more than $3 million for three capital improvement and maintenance projects to improve two facilities and one road project.
The Forest Service in Kentucky received more than $1.1 million for three projects to reduce hazardous fuels and restore local habitats.
USDA has awarded $4 million for the Fox Creek Watershed project in Fleming County to upgrade the existing flood control dam to meet current hazard dam safety requirements.
USDA's Community Facilities program provided $412,000 five communities to purchase vital police cars and an ambulance.
On April 1, 2009, benefits increased in Kentucky and nationwide for households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Most four-person households will receive an $80 increase in their monthly SNAP benefit. Eligibility limits on jobless adults will be suspended in most areas. The state of Kentucky received $2.8 million from USDA to help administer the program.
The state received additional funds to support The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Additional foods valued at more than $2 million have been ordered by the state for issuance to Food Banks and Community Action Agencies beginning this month through September 2009.
The state received more than $2 million for the purpose of providing equipment grants to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.