An increasing number of military veterans are interested in farming as a post-service career. Government agencies and private organizations are stepping up to support troops entering the agricultural industry. Special financing, product development and marketing, and education opportunities are available for farmer vets.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) helps farmers finance farms, land, and working capital when they are unable to secure loans through a commercial lender. The 2014 Farm Bill increased resources available to military veterans, and created a USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison. Farmer veterans receive preference and priority when applying for FSA loans and guarantees, and may qualify for additional incentives.
Download Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index
Download a Quick Guide to Veterans Resources https://www.usda.gov/veterans
Product development and marketing
Value Added Producer Grants help farmers plan, develop, and deliver new products to market. Farmer veteran applications receive priority points. The grant is awarded in two categories; Planning grants up to $75,000, and working capital grants to $250,000. There is a 50-50 program-producer matching funds requirement.
Value-Added Producer Grant information http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants
Homegrown By Heroes is a nationally recognized brand. The Farmer Veteran Coalition certifies veteran producers, and permits use of the HBH logo. Homegrown By Heroes encourages customers to support farmer veterans by purchasing farm fresh products bearing the label.
Learn about Homegrown By Heroes and FVC http://www.farmvetco.org/homegrown-by-heroes
Armed to Farm trains military veterans to operate sustainable farms. Veterans learn how to manage crop and livestock operations in the classroom and on working farms. “The hands-on experience was amazing along with the speakers,” an Armed to Farm grad said. “We made a lot of contacts with other veterans doing a variety of different farming ventures.”
Learn more about the program https://www.ncat.org/armedtofarm.
Veteran run farms offer bootstrap internship opportunities:
- Veterans Farm fellowship teaches organic production, farm management, and business planning, http://veteransfarm.org.
- Veterans to Farmers provides basic farm education and specialty enterprise education in aquaponics, aeroponics, hydroponics, and greenhouse production, http://veteranstofarmers.org.
- Growing Warriors trains veterans to start farms and agricultural businesses that strengthen communities and local economies, http://www.growingwarriors.org.
Veterans can use GI Bill benefits to study agriculture at land grant colleges and universities, and other approved schools. Vocational/technical and non-degree training in agricultural fields may also be covered.
Search for schools and programs https://www.vets.gov/education.
Additional Farm and Dairy content: Homegrown by Heroes: Growing support for veteran farmers
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