In the face of an approaching farmer shortage, the U.S. agricultural industry is reaching out to veterans for help. Growers across the country are encouraging former servicemembers to fill voids left by retiring farmers and field workers.
Most American farmers are around 58 years old and, since 1987, the number of new growers joining the industry has declined. Without quick action from government and private organizations, farming itself could die out and lead to a catastrophic drop in agricultural production.
In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce Foundation to develop an agricultural employment program for recently discharged veterans. The initiative aims to catch former servicemembers as they transition out of the military and offer them the training and funding they need to start farms. A number of third-party organizations are supporting this push, as well. Many are lobbying Congress to supplement the Agricultural Act of 2014 with veteran-specific farming legislation.
Experts believe it’s a perfect match. Young veterans need well-paying, meaningful jobs and everyone needs a robust U.S. agricultural industry.