When you think of poverty do you automatically think inner city? If so, you’re not alone, most people do, but as Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has been telling people , nearly 85% of the country’s persistently poor counties are actually located in rural areas. In 2010 the USDA launched the StrikeForce For Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative, a program to help local communities in poverty stricken rural areas. Started as a pilot program with three states, StrikeForce has now formed more than 400 community based partnerships. Recently the USDA added four more states to the program. Though the nation as a whole saw farm lending drop 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, Farm Service Agency loans in StrikeForce areas were up almost 10 percent in 2012 over 2011, and rural housing loans were up more than 110% that same year. Some people ask why we need to put so much focus on rural poverty. Simply put, one can’t survive without the other. It’s rural ecosystems that provide us with the bulk of the goods that we as humans depend on for survival.