USDA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation are partnering to increase agricultural employment opportunities for military veterans and their spouses.
USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam signed the agreement Feb. 12 along with Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Eversole, a Commander in the Navy Reserve, also serves as the foundation's president of Hiring Our Heroes. Baccam, a U.S. Army and Iowa National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan, is USDA's military veterans liaison.
"Today's agreement opens the door for thousands of service members who participate in Hiring Our Heroes events around the world to benefit from USDA's vast array of tools and resources," Baccam said. "This new partnership strengthens USDA's ongoing efforts to help veterans pursue rewarding careers in farming, ranching, or in the fast-growing agriculture and food sectors."
The agreement establishes a new partnership between USDA and Hiring Our Heroes, a program that helps military veterans, transitioning active duty personnel, and their spouses and partners with training and opportunities to find meaningful employment when entering the civilian workforce.
Since 2009, USDA has provided $466.8 million in farm loans to help more than 6,868 veterans purchase farmland, buy equipment and make repairs and upgrades. Microloans, which offer smaller amounts of support to meet the needs of small- or niche-type farm operations, have also grown in popularity among veterans. Since it was launched in January 2013, USDA's microloan program has provided more than $25.8 million in support to help veterans grow their farming businesses.
Recently, USDA's Farm Service Agency also expanded its collaboration with the Department of Defense to better reach the nearly 200,000 service members transitioning from military service to civilian life each year. Through a career training and counseling program, called the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, USDA provides information on a wide variety of loans, grants, training and technical assistance available for veterans who are passionate about a career in agriculture.
For more information on how USDA can help military veterans transition into agriculture as a career, visit www.usda.gov/veterans.