A new piece of legislation would make more USDA apprenticeships available to veterans
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. lawmaker wants to create more avenues for military veterans to begin careers in agriculture.
Republican Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12), who served in the United States Marine Corps. from 1979 to 1982, reintroduced The Veterans’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Act on July 20.
He originally tabled the bill on Jan. 15, 2019.
This piece of legislation, which has 16 bipartisan cosponsors, directs the United States Department of Agriculture to work with state agriculture departments to identify farmers and ranchers eligible for a direct loan to train apprentice veterans.
The interest-free loans would be for a term of one year and would be repaid after the harvest season.
The bill calls on the USDA to allocate $1 million each fiscal year for the apprenticeship program.
Passing this bill would create new opportunities for military members upon their return from duty, Bost said.
“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 shutdowns, many veterans are out of work,” he said in a July 20 statement. “Not only that, but farmers across Illinois are facing a shortage of on-the-farm labor. Our bill will help farmers and ranchers expand their operations while also offering veterans new skills and career paths once they return home.”
The U.S. only started including farmers with military service in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
That year, 370,619 farmers (351,647 men compared to 18,972 women) identified themselves as U.S. veterans.
Those producers farmed more than 129 million acres across more than 365,000 farms.
In total, those farms produced nearly $42 billion of ag products.
If you or someone you know is a veteran looking for work in the ag sector, check out Ag Warriors.
This site opens the door for employers and veterans to connect regarding employment and career opportunities.