The Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO), created by the 2008 Farm Bill, coordinates programs and outreach across USDA for several underserved groups of farmers and ranchers. The Office is working with several states and organizations to create programs to help veterans transition to farming, ranching, and other agricultural jobs. While no federal programs exist specifically for veteran farmers and ranchers, financial and resource management training programs at USDA can have a significant impact on helping these farmers establish and maintain successful farming or ranching businesses. In recognizing the value of introducing (or reintroducing) veterans to agricultural jobs, USDA encourages their participation in rural community and economic development.
Veterans returning to the United States from active duty face many challenges. The Department of Labor reports that as of May 2010, over 20 percent of young veterans are unemployed. Moreover, recent data show that 45 percent of armed service members are from rural America. The agricultural industry is a logical solution to fill the economic gap veterans face. USDA is committed to assisting veterans start or continue farming and ranching operations in order to strengthen the American economy and provide livelihoods to our returning veterans.
In addition to our efforts to hire returning Veterans and Reservists and qualifying family members, the USDA is strengthening service delivery to members of the military who live in rural America or who are interested in farming or ranching. The USDA for Veterans, Reservists and Military Families Task Force is working to create models of how the diverse array of USDA programs can work together to help communities establish job training programs and other efforts to assist returning military.
The following organizations and programs specifically target and assist veteran farmers and ranchers.