Thursday, November 05, 2015

Nonprofit groups training veterans to be farmers

Nonprofits are popping up that use federal funds from the 2014 Farm Bill to train veterans in farming to increase employment opportunities among veterans while also filling a void in a profession where the average age keeps getting higher, John Wasik reports for The New York Times. The jobless rate among veterans doubled from 2006 to 2009 from just under 4 percent to 8 percent, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012, the average age of principal farm operators was 58.3, up 1.2 years since 2007, according to the 2014 USDA Census of Agriculture.

"In response to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Michael O’Gorman, a longtime California farmer, formed the Farmer Veteran Coalition, the largest of the groups," Wasik writes. O’Gorman said the coalition has worked with more than 5,000 veterans, signing up 2,000 new members this year. He said “72 percent have post-9/11 service, 20 percent are ethnic minorities, 16 percent are women and 59 percent have service-connected disabilities.”

Similar efforts are in other states, such as Growing Healthy People, an Illinois-based nonprofit that "offers internships, scholarships and education at a local community college to those leaving military service," Wasik writes. "Veterans get hands-on training in different types of agriculture, including growing both indoors and out." (Read more)

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