At USDA, we are thankful for the military men and women who are serving or have served this nation. We are committed to providing them with opportunities for their next career to be in agriculture.
USDA employs more than 11,000 veterans and since 2009 have provided more than $505 million in direct farm loans to more than 7,400 veterans to start, maintain or grow their farming operations. USDA has service centers across the country where veterans can find out about farming and other USDA programs and services.
In the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there are more than 300 employees who have served in the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, or who are serving in a military reserve component. Out of 617 new hires in AMS in fiscal year 2016, more than 12 percent (74) are Veterans.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they have experience in agriculture -- if they are passionate about making a career in agriculture, we want to help them achieve their goal. Prime examples of this are the employees who are in the pilot year of our Agricultural Commodity Grader Apprenticeship. Half of the participants came from careers that were far removed from agriculture:
- Charles Horton is a retired Air Force master sergeant. He served as an aircraft machinist and welder for 24 years.
- Paul Derdzinski was an Army ammunition specialist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former staff sergeant has a Bachelor of Science in Information Security and Risk Management.
- Jeff Dezort was an artillery cannoneer for four years in the Marine Corps. He served in Iraq, and when his term of service ended, he worked as a Department of Defense contractor in Kuwait. He then went to college and earned his Bachelor of Science in Management.
The apprenticeship program is only one of many ways for America’s veterans to join our ranks. More information about opportunities available at AMS can be found on the Careers page of our website.
USDA also works with federal partners like the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense to inform our service members about the wide variety of loans, grants, training and technical assistance for Veterans who are interested in agriculture. Relationships with organizations like the Farmer-Veteran Coalition and Hiring Our Heroes opens the agriculture industry and the thousands of high-skilled jobs to veterans.
Again, we thank you for your service to America. At AMS, we are especially proud that many of you have chosen USDA to continue that service.