Veterans looking to transition into agriculture careers are undergoing a special mission in New York State called Farm Ops.
“We realize that veterans represent a really amazing population of individuals who have a tremendous skill set that is very translatable to careers in agriculture.”
Anu Rangarajan of Cornell University Extension says the program allows veterans to gain on-the-job work experience at pilot farm sites during a prolonged period and use their military housing allowance under the GI bill to support their on-the-job training.
Funding in Farm Ops comes in part from USDA’s beginning farmers and ranchers program. In addition, there is an intense one-week training course for veterans interested in ag careers called Arm to Farm.
“Arm to Farm is a collaboration with National Center for Appropriate Technology which is a USDA organization.”
The end goal for many participants of both programs is to own and operate their own farms.
From: Cornell University FARM OPS
Veterans often encounter unique obstacles when considering entering into farming. There are over 800,000 military veterans in New York State, but they exist in a dispersed population, varying from 3-15% of the total population of each county. Because they do not have a dominant presence in any one location, specialized resources are often lacking, ultimately presenting a high barrier to entering agricultural jobs and further marginalizing these veterans. Agriculture is not directly supported by Veterans Affairs – veterans cannot use education funds for most farm training and often cannot use vocational training funds for farm related occupations. In addition, many veterans have unique disabilities (e.g. amputations, PTSD) and training and resources need to include mechanisms to address these issues. Over the last two years, the Northeast Beginning Farmer Program has begun receiving an increasing number of requests each month from veterans seeking assistance.
To enhance the resources and training available to military veterans interested in farming, we will team with established Veterans groups to:
• Create a statewide service provider network for organizations to support agriculture training for veterans
• Implement multiple education strategies to engage and train military/ veterans who want to farm