Agricultural opportunities for military veterans

This bill also includes provisions to strengthen USDA’s support for military veterans, by adding a new grant priority for agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training programs for military veterans within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program administered by USDA.  The bill would also establish a Veterans Agricultural Liaison Position within USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help connect returning veterans with beginning farmer training and rehabilitation programs and assist them with program eligibility requirements for participation in farm bill programs.

“We are extremely excited about the bill's inclusion of a program to support military veterans who want to get into farming,” says Taylor Reid, founder of BeginningFarmers.org – an online resource for beginning farmers and ranchers, and Policy Coordinator for the NSAC member group Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance.  “We owe the military men and women who have proudly served their country, and often made significant sacrifices in doing so, the opportunity to find meaningful careers in agriculture."

Next Steps

With the 2012 farm bill, Congress has an opportunity to expand and improve a comprehensive beginning farmer and rancher initiative that breaks down barriers to entry and gives real support to ensure the effective start-up and success of new small and mid-scale producers across the country.

"The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition supports the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011, and advocates for fully incorporating the bill's provisions in the new farm bill," said Juli Obudzinski, an NSAC Policy Associate.  "We believe that the bill pulls together the best ideas from around the country for advancing new farming opportunities by building on the progress of previous farm bills, and stepping up the pace of reform."

For more information on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Act, visit NSAC’s website.