In honor of Veteran’s Day, USDA is launching a new website and a USDA-wide AgLearn curriculum to allow all employees to understand the unique opportunities offered to our nation’s veterans.
“These men and women of the United States military have kept America free and deserve the utmost respect,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Across the country, these veterans are beginning to fill roles that preserve rural communities while providing for their livelihood. Through these resources, USDA is committed to helping veterans in agricultural areas so we can strengthen the American economy and provide assistance for those who have served. Veterans and agriculture are just a great fit.”
USDA supports veterans in the areas of the “three Es” – employment, education, and entrepreneurship, and pulls together programs from the department’s 17 agencies that veterans may use.USDA assists veterans in several ways, including microloans, operating loans and other loan programs that help in buying or leasing farm land. Recently, USDA partnered with SCORE to provide mentorship to veterans and other beginning farmers who need business or other guidance as they prepare for their new careers.
“Its endless possibilities where you could go as a career in agricultural farming and you just feel responsible to present good product to consumers and feel compelled to take care of the land,” said Lenny Miles Jr., Navy veteran and farmer in Chestertown, Maryland. Miles helps his father and grandfather run the family farm. Although Miles returned to an established farm, it is possible to start from scratch.
Tom and Anita Roberson served in the Army a combined 34 years and started Botanical Bites and Provisions in Fredericksburg. They didn’t come from a farm background. Both worked in the medical field in the Army. After retiring, Tom worked in his private practice for several years before attending farming classes with his wife. Their son, Julian, helped with a business plan.
Not long after the Roberson’s finished school, they were operating their own farm growing and selling tomatoes, watermelons, squash, blueberries, other produce and also raising bees for honey.