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USDA Salutes Veterans With Support Programs And Funding

Photo Courtesy FarmersGov

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers numerous programs to assist veterans who want to work in the agricultural industry. USDA resources such as the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Crop Insurance, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Farm Loan Program, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program assist veterans as they transition into a more rural workforce. 

All in all, the USDA is committed to making sure people who served in America’s Armed Forces who decide to work in the farming business have all of the tools they need to thrive and grow at home. The department does this by ensuring veterans transitioning into farming, ranching, and other agricultural opportunities have easy access to financial, educational, and training resources.

In 2017, the Census of Agriculture, conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, collected data about agricultural producers who served or were serving in the Armed Forces. The results indicated that 11% of the country’s 3.4 million producers had military service. In fact, military producers were responsible for nearly 130 million acres of farmland and more than $40 billion in agricultural sales.

Video Courtesy FarmersGov

The USDA feels the most vital time to connect with veterans interested in the industry is right from the start of their agricultural journey.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers — the USDA’s terminology — are veterans who are part of the community of beginning farmers and ranchers and eligible for programs to help start and continue a career in the farming industry. 

The department connects them with a wide array of resources from coast to coast. It is also at the forefront of supporting veterans working in innovative urban agriculture, including hydroponic and aquaponics facilities, vertical production, and rooftop farms.

Retired U.S. Army Major Joseph Labarera is one example of a veteran who put the USDA resources to good use. In a blog post, he talked about his purchase and love of his 30-acre farm in New Jersey, raising St. Croix sheep and Dexter cattle. He teamed up with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and developed an agroforestry plan and livestock-related conservation practices for his land. 

Others, like Navy veteran Lenny Miles, Jr., came home to work the family land with his father and grandfather. Miles used the USDA’s loan program to protect and enhance the family’s farm.

Photo Courtesy FarmersGov

“It’s endless possibilities where you can go as a career in agriculture or farming,” Miles said in a USDA video. “And you just feel responsible to present good product for consumers and compelled to take care of the land.”

In addition to the numerous programs mentioned above, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers loans to help farmers and ranchers get the financing needed to buy, expand, or maintain a family operation. Veterans can also find agricultural assistance through state, regional, and county Cooperative Extension offices.

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