Supporting the men and women of the military as they transition into agriculture

Rural Americans have a proud history of military service and many choose to pursue careers in agriculture after returning home. The Virtual Farmer Veteran Coalition Convention offers some insight on the programs that are assisting veterans.

USDA offers designated support to veterans looking to start a new career on the farm or in a rural community. One program from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is the Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans grant.

According to the NIFA’s National Program Leader, Brent Elrod, “What it is is... again, to decide to provide immersive training, education experience to create those career opportunities for military veterans.”

Seventeen projects were funded this year and the application period is currently open for 2021 funding. Elrod says that the agency also has a 40 year history of supporting military young people and families.

“Many folks may not be aware that the Cooperative Extension Service helps develop 4-H clubs that support military youth,” he states. “Not only within the U.S. but also internationally, as well, so, that the family members, the youth of those service members, across almost all branches, have the opportunities to engage in positive youth development at the local level.”

For veterans returning home to farm with injuries, USDA offers agri-ability.

He notes, “Their goal is to provide assistive technology that’s going to help keep farmers and ranchers doing what they love, and there’s a national agri-ability project that’s based at Purdue University, and we currently have 28 state and regional projects out there.”

Elrod says that it is important for veteran farmers to share their concerns with Congress, to help federal programs adapt.

“Make your voice heard, let us know what your needs are, the challenges you’re experiencing in navigating the bureaucracy of the local state and national level, and then again, what we can be doing with Congress to ensure your needs are being lifted up,” he adds.

USDA also offers a wide array of support for beginning farmers and ranchers, including loans and education programs for veterans who are getting involved in agriculture for the first time.


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