National Movement Helps Veterans Become Farmers

Here is a great article about the national movement to help veterans become farmers. To some from urban areas, this might seem trite, but its a great initiative. The Farmer Veteran Coalition has more than 5000 members across the U.S. and has considerable federal support.

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National movement helps veterans become farmers

Ireland is part of a growing national movement to re-train veterans as farmers. It’s an idea that has been gaining traction through the work of the California-based Farmer Veteran Coalition, a national organization that will hold its second annual conference in Sacramento in November. The coalition is now starting to form state chapters, and Maine is poised to become the first in the nation when it files the paperwork in October, according to Michael O’Gorman, founder and executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The Maine group recently selected a nine-member board of directors and will hold its first board meeting Oct. 1.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition has 5,170 members across the country, and there are “hundreds” of other regional groups working together to connect veterans with agriculture, O’Gorman said. The movement also has considerable federal support. The 2014 Farm Bill gave veterans special status that will make it easier for them to get low-interest loans, apply for grants, and educate themselves about agriculture through training and technical assistance programs. Several agencies that help beginning farmers are now required to channel a percentage of their funding to veterans. Last fall, at the first national conference of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new position, the Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, intended to help strengthen support across agencies for veterans who want to become farmers.

And USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden says she will soon announce an expanded collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense that will focus on providing the 200,000 Americans who leave military service each year with the training they need to start their own farm or ranch business.

“Rural America disproportionately sends our sons and daughters to serve in the military,” she wrote in an email. “When service members return home, we want them to know that rural America has a place for them, no matter where they’re from. We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from returning veterans who are eager to get back to the land and continue serving their country.”

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter