La. to be part of national initiative to improve rural poverty conditions

“U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that Louisiana and three other states are joining the federal StrikeForce Initiative to invest in improving areas with significant rural poverty levels.

The StrikeForce Initiative includes efforts to assist low-income people in rural areas with programs such as those helping farmers get microloans, increasing education access and even smaller things like allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, to be used for local fruits and vegetables and farmers markets.

Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia were also added on Friday. StrikeForce will operate in 20 states with the new additions.

Louisiana’s inclusion will focus on 11 parishes in northeastern Louisiana. They are Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Tensas and West Carroll parishes.”

Read the full article on the Advocate.

Increase in Louisiana minimum wage?

“Louisiana is one of five states that has no minimum wage but generally follows the national law, which currently puts the wage at $7.25 per hour. A $9 minimum, instead of $10.10 being sought on the federal level, would be easier to pass in Louisiana” State Rep. Herbert B. Dixon explains. 

Read the full article here on the Advocate.

The War on Poverty – NY Times

“When President Lyndon Johnson declared his war on poverty on Jan. 8, 1964, almost exactly 50 years ago, 19 percent of Americans were poor. The official poverty rate today is 15 percent. This is just 3 percentage points less than in 1967, the earliest year for which the data is available. It amounts to 50 million people.

“Why so many still? Did the United States wage a war on poverty, lose and move on?”

Read the full story NY Times story here.

Immigration Raids Causing Fear Among Many in N.O. Area

The New Orleans Advocate recently reported on immigration raids in the metro area that are sparking both fear and protest. “People in southern Louisiana should especially understand the need for immigration reform, said [Susan] Weishar [migration specialist of the Jesuit Social Research Institute], noting that a 2006 study found that more than half of the workforce rebuilding the region after Hurricane Katrina was Latino and that half of those workers were undocumented.”

“Erika Zucker, a policy advocate at Loyola’s Workplace Justice Project, which helps low-wage workers collect their wages, said the raids make undocumented workers less likely to assert their right to be paid for work they’ve done.” Find the full story here.