At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), we understand the essential role that veterans, military spouses, and transitioning service members can play in revitalizing and strengthening our agricultural industry. This is one of the reasons we provide a range of training resources and support. USDA’s Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, or MVAL, connects veterans to resources within and outside USDA to help them embark on successful careers in agriculture. These efforts also help move USDA closer to its goal of developing a workforce in which 25 percent of all employees are veterans.
Last week, for the first time, USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, Risk Management Agency, Farmer Veterans Coalition, and the National AgrAbility Project partnered with the New England Veterans Business Outreach Center to present a webinar outlining the basics on beginning a farming or ranching career, finding employment at USDA, and more. Almost 600 veterans, transitioning veterans and military spouses participated. Many, including Army Veteran Billy VanCuren, expressed enthusiasm and appreciation for the resources offered.
“This training has been extremely informative,” he said. “I've been looking for over a year at various organizations and websites, but the resources have all been compiled into this one webinar, which has given me several solid directions to pursue.”
Much of the information shared is described in USDA’s “Get Started! A Guide to USDA Resources for Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers” book. This publication describes assistance and targeted opportunities available to minority, women, veteran, beginning and limited resource producers and is available in multiple languages.
Other USDA resources that veterans can access directly include:
- The AgrAbility project, which offers training and financial assistance to military veterans as well as beginning farmers with disabilities.
- The Farm Service Agency, which offers loans to help farmers and ranchers get the financing they need to start, expand or maintain a family farm.
- The Natural Resources Conservation Service, which provides free technical and financial assistance for conservation work on farm and ranches of all sizes, including urban gardens.
- The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, which offers technical and financial assistance various growing operations, including community farms and gardens.
Please visit USDA’s web page for veterans to learn more about employment, education, and entrepreneurship opportunities available through USDA, and to reach out to the MVAL, Monshi “Ram” Ramdass, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of USDA and as a veteran myself, I would like to thank all veterans for their service. USDA is committed to your success, and we are here to support you every step of the way.