Rural development officials from Hatay Province, Turkey were in the United States recently to learn about USDA Rural Development programs at the national level and in Nebraska. Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettio Lekesiz, Hatay Rural Development Agency Director Savas Ozgursoy and four agency staff were on the delegation tour.
Turkey will soon be joining the European Union and Hatay is one of the 20 Turkish provinces chosen for the first phase of EU assistance to support the establishment of a rural development agency. Hatay is in southeast Turkey, bordering Syria and on the Mediterranean Sea. The first settlement goes back to 40,000 to 9,000 BC when the main city of Antioch was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals.
The delegation met with Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook and other USDA staff before flying to Nebraska. Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul provided a briefing on Nebraska Rural Development activities and arranged for visits with Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Center for Rural Affairs. She also hosted a daylong tour of southeast Nebraska projects.
“This is a great opportunity for us at USDA Rural Development,” said Moul. “To be able to share the practices that are working here and what is working in Turkey, puts two perspectives, goals, and best practices together, bettering both countries. USDA Rural Development is pleased to share with the delegation a synopsis of our many projects funded throughout Nebraska as well as the partnerships we have built in promoting our programs and initiatives.”
The tour included Rural Development projects: Prairie Hill Learning Center (solar, energy efficiency) in Roca, Neb.; Prairieland Dairy (refinance and working capital for dairy operation) of Hallam, Neb.; Bell Street Apartments (group home) of Beatrice, Neb., Blue Valley Lutheran Homes Assisted Living and MetalQuest (business expansion of precision parts) in Hebron, Neb.; Fillmore County Hospital at Geneva, Neb. and Aurora Coop (flex fuel pump) at York, Neb.