U.S. Representatives Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) have introduced H.R. 6500, the Veteran Empowerment and Training to Facilitate Agricultural Revitalization and Mobilization Act (VET-2-FARM Act) of 2018, to better connect veteran populations with an agriculture industry that is in dire need of a new generation of farmers.
“As a veteran and an almond farmer myself, I know firsthand the discipline, dedication, and passion required in both fields,” said Rep. Denham. “This bill will help bring forth a new generation of farmers while connecting veterans to jobs in which they can thrive.”
The VET-2-FARM Act invests in veterans looking to enter agriculture careers by providing easy access to information about available jobs, apprenticeships, job training, and education through a USDA website, prioritizing training and education programs for veteran farmers, making risk management tools more affordable and accessible, and improving access to loans and land for veterans looking to start and expand their ag businesses.
The U.S. agriculture industry is facing a growing problem, with the average age of farmers at 60 years old and the existing farming population aging out. As the nation’s service members return home, they bring with them their exceptional skill set, discipline, and devotion to the nation. Likewise, many veterans have found farming to be a great transition back into civilian life. The intersection of the aging farming population with the growing interest by veterans in agriculture is an ideal opportunity to support the next generation of American farmers and ranchers.
In May, Denham’s related amendment to require USDA to provide resources and information for veterans on how they can use their GI benefits for farming and agricultural programs passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. This larger bill builds upon this previous work and gives veterans the tools they need to use their hard-earned benefits to learn practical skills and launch careers in agriculture.
Congressman Denham represents California’s 10th congressional district, which includes Stanislaus County and a portion of San Joaquin County. He is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and also serves on the House Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources.