The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced an award of $5 million to community farming programs for Veterans. NIFA’s Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans (AgVets) program specifically targets Veterans interested in pursuing careers across the food and agricultural sector. The aim is to equip Veterans with the necessary skills, training and experience that lead to meaningful employment opportunities to strengthen personal finances and rural economies.
The most recent announcement highlights eight AgVets projects. Each project offers onsite, hands-on training and classroom education leading to a comprehensive understanding of successful farm and ranch operations, and management practices. Projects may also offer workforce readiness and employment prospects for service-disabled Veterans.
Rural South Institute, Madison, Alabama
Rural South Institute seeks to empower military Veterans and facilitate their equitable access to government programs and resources to successfully transition into civilian life. This project targets Veterans in Alabama, paying special attention to those currently serving in the Reserve and National Guard, and who are interested in farming and entrepreneurship.
Center for Land-Based Learning, Woodland, California
The long-term goal of this project is to provide comprehensive classroom and hands-on agricultural education to Veterans, and to connect them with support services that will increase their retention in agricultural careers. The target audience includes service-disabled Veterans, women Veterans, and socially disadvantaged Veterans in the state of California.
Farmer Veteran Coalition, Davis, California
“Veterans Farming Through Adversity” connects Veterans to an educational and training program in their chosen agricultural field through partnerships with four certified agricultural apprenticeship programs: (a) Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA); (b) Archi’s Acres Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; (c) Rodale Institute Veteran Farmer Training Program; and (d) Texas AgrAbility Battleground to Breaking Ground. The four apprenticeship opportunities span 18 states and a variety of focus areas and commodities.
Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc., Denver, Colorado
Denver Botanic Gardens’ Veterans Farm Program creates opportunity out of crisis by preparing all Veterans for the agricultural workforce gap created by growers who are either retiring or leaving the industry.
Servicemember Agricultural Vocation Education (SAVE) Corp., Manhattan, Kansas
SAVE provides hands on training and transition assistance for Veterans desiring a career in farming or the agriculture industry.
Michigan Integrated Food & Farming Systems, East Lansing, Michigan
The Heroes to Hives (H2H) program is the nation’s largest beekeeping education program with nearly 1,000 alumni operating over 4,000 beehives across the United States. H2H uses a 9-month hybrid education program that takes students through a year of beekeeping training using a self-paced online certificate program that is coupled with hands-on educational experiences at seven locations in Michigan.
Whitaker Small Farm Group Inc., Garner, North Carolina
The main goal of this project is to empower Veteran farmers primarily in eastern North Carolina with the resources, knowledge and expertise needed to make well informed decisions to manage their farms in a sustainable and profitable manner.
American Farmland Trust, Washington, D.C.
Veteran Women for the Land aims to foster a community of practice among Veteran women farmers in the Pacific Northwest through a series of listening sessions, Learning Circles and convenings.
Check out more of USDA’s resources available to Veterans.