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April 10, 2003   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
April 10, 2003

Alabama Congressman Artur Davis will launch a rural development initiative to improve the quality of life in Alabama's Black Belt during the April congressional recess.

The initiative will examine the overall structure of the Black Belt and look at impacting people's lives through economic development, education, healthcare and other issues associated with everyday life in Alabama's rural communities.

As a part of the project, Congressman Davis, in cooperation with Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, will host the Agriculture Self-Empowerment Summit, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Uniontown Elementary School in Perry County.

This meeting is the first in a series scheduled for the year, with another meeting planned for the fall.

Farmers from throughout Alabama are invited to attend the April 26 meeting which will primarily focus on Pickens, Greene, Hale, Perry, Sumter, Choctaw, Wilcox, Dallas, Marengo and Clarke counties.

Panel participants and speakers include the Alabama State Agriculture Commission, USDA, Alabama Farmers Federation, Land Grant Consortium, Farmers Market Association, Federation of Southern Co-ops, and the office of Congressman Davis.

"We decided to offer this first program for our farmers because of the amount of attention needed for the agriculture industry in Central and West Alabama," Congressman Davis said. "We want to give our farmers the chance to interact with agencies and gather information about assistance they may receive while also offering a critical analysis that can be used to improve access to those resources and technical assistance.

"Our farmers continue to be the backbone of our rural communities, and we need to work toward ways to improve their capacity to offer products at a fair cost. This summit is a great opportunity to get out some much needed information, and I am grateful that Commissioner Sparks is on board."

For more information, please contact Lukata Mjumbe, rural development specialist with Congressman Davis' office at 205-652-5834, or Ronnie Murphy, Alabama deputy agriculture commissioner at 334-240-7282.

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