On Thursday, September 17, at 11 a.m. Eastern, Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will sit down with a panel of veteran farmers and veteran training organizations for a live Google+ Hangout to discuss opportunities available through USDA for returning service members who are looking for long-term careers in farming, ranching and agriculture. Use the USDA Google+ page or www.usda.gov/live to join us.
If you are a military veteran living in rural America, you are not alone. Today, more than five million veterans live in rural areas, a higher concentration than in any other part of the country. Many veterans show interest in agriculture because they feel that working on the land helps them successfully transition to civilian life and provides them with a way to continue serving their community. As part of the beginning farmer community, many veterans are eligible for a wide variety of USDA programs and resources that include access to capital through our beginning farmer loan program, farm ownership loans or microloans.
Tune in to the Google+ Hangout to hear real-life stories of veterans who have successfully made the transition from active military to agriculture. You can ask questions of the panelists by leaving them in the comments section below or by using #NextGenAg on Twitter. You can also RSVP to attend the event on our Google+ page. We can't wait to hear from you!
Leading the discussion:
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden
Dave Paulk, owner of Sassafras Creek Farm in St. Mary’s County, Md.
Karen and Colin Archipley, co-founders of Archi’s Acres in Escondido, Calif.
Marianne Cufone, executive director of Recirculating Farms in New Orleans, La.
Justin Barclay, veteran farming program coordinator at Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa.
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Thank you for the forums, my suggestion or idea: a property in Escondido located at 550 Chestnut Ave, Escondido, CA 92025 has 3.91 acres and a home on property which needs work. Property offered at $549,000 but is worth $529,000 in my opinion. If green houses and barn plus equipment to create a viable farm were to be created total estimated cost approximately 1 million total. If we veterans hope to create viable options for employment for fellow veterans this initial investment becomes impossible for those of veteran community to begin these ideas toward realuzation. On the property is sufficient room for multiple many tiny houses for each employed veteran and could house about 7 smaller tiny homes, but the investment becomes counter productive when fewer investors pony up toward veteran needs. What are our options? I have an inheritance but have no idea where my grandmother had her accounts apparently she named me sole heir but is mute if I have no idea where funds originated only the federal reserve state I forfeited account because I failed to access, if I had known. Whom would not access if they knew about an inheritance? I have contacted banks but no luck. If I had access this and other veteran projects would be fully funded without question if I have money. Obviously I do not have access, my point these projects need funding but farming loans are archaic in amounts needed. My hope we make positive changes toward new options for veteran farm loans.
Excited to see the veterans webinar on Thursday.
James McCormick Director
Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture
Given the high capital costs involved in establishing ranches and farms, are there USDA-supported or other non-profit incubators in the USA specifically for veterans to begin executing their business plans in a small way? Do they include housing and any other amenities to help with PTSD or minor TBI or other injuries? If so, is there a list of their locations?
My wife and I bought a farm in Esperance, NY that had lain fallow for 16 years. We are struggling to get started. Vietnam Veteran
I've a suggestion..... could USDA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs hired joint founded social workers to work with veterans interested in farming. I am specifically referring to our OEF/OIF/OND veterans (though could include all veterans) with disabilities i.e. PTSD, medical, etc.. The social worker could act as a case manager making sure the veteran is connected to all the national and local resources/support for farming and in addition provide support/case management regarding disabilities i.e. PTSD, physical, etc... Farming can be such a great alternative for our returning combat veterans - their discipline, sense of service to the public, etc... Also the hard work, surrounded by nature, connecting with other farmers, having a high purpose - all have a healing effect. The field of mental health can often be viewed as abstract - farming and related activities can is such a practical approach - therapy or exercise with a purpose. I've had the privilege of working with about 2,000 war zone veterans in a mental health setting at the V.A. I also have a passion for farming - and I can't but be an energetic advocate to help interested veterans look at farming as an option. Also - I work for the V.A. on the Island of Guam - which has some unique dynamics that make the veteran farmer option even more desirable. I'm told that the Island of Guam imports nearly 90% of their food whereas in the past they provide all their own food. It use to be an agrarian society and nearly everyone respects farming (it is in their DNA) and I think a higher percentage of veterans on Guam would enter farming with the right encouragement and support. All this said to repeat my question -- could the USDA and the V.A. work together in providing our veterans the support and encouragement to enter farming. I should clarify I not necessary talking about giving additional financial support but rather helping the veteran be aware of and facilitating taping into the already existing resources - and programs (some programs such as V.A. Voc. Rehab. maybe could be adapted or adjusted with the right guidelines to be a further support to the disabled veteran farmer). Thank you, Kim Pearson, LCSW (Social Worker)
Excited for the conversation this morning!
Question for the panel: Are there any USDA supported grants that are specific to military veterans entering the agriculture industry?
Has a replacement been named for Karis Gutter as Military Liaison at USDA? We are about to publish a resource guide to accompany our documentary film (Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields) and I'd like to include that information for veteran viewers.
I was sorry to miss this! Is there a recording somewhere that I can view and send to our farmer veteran partners?
@Jessy G - Thanks, Jessy, for visiting the blog. You can view the Hangout here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vb_8oyxh_k. We hope you enjoy the conversation!