U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has joined Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to introduce legislation that expands support for military veterans in agriculture. The Farmer Veteran Opportunity Act of 2018 makes all new veterans eligible for support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bill also improves access for farmer veterans across eight existing initiatives to make risk management tools more affordable, expand access to land and capital, and prioritize training for veterans.
“When our veterans retire from active service, whether here or abroad, they need certainty and opportunity,” said Senator Roberts. “I’m proud to cosponsor a bill that allows men and women who have served our country to return to the farm.”
“Agriculture offers our veterans rewarding careers and the opportunity to continue serving our nation by feeding our families,” said Senator Stabenow. “After putting their lives on the line, our veterans should be first in line for support that can help them find jobs in farming and grow their agricultural businesses.”
The legislation expands support to all new veterans who may have existing careers in agriculture. Currently, the USDA’s veterans initiatives are designed to support those who are starting a career in agriculture for the first time. This common-sense change ensures that all new farmer veterans will be able to benefit from support, whether they are just starting a career on the farm or looking to expand their operation.
Additionally, the bill would help farmer veterans receive better assistance from existing farm programs, including more-affordable risk management tools like crop insurance to help them recover from unexpected losses. Because many farmer veterans also face barriers to accessing land and capital to start or expand their farms, the legislation would make farmer veterans eligible for down payment loans when purchasing real estate and would provide priority access for reduced interest rates on loans to buy farmland or finance production equipment. Veterans would also receive priority access for additional training and education opportunities to help them navigate their crop insurance options and meet food safety standards.
For more information, find the bill summary fact sheet here.