Veterans often encounter unique obstacles when considering entering into farming. There are over 800,000 military veterans in New York State, but they exist in a dispersed population, varying from 3-15% of the total population of each county. Because they do not have a dominant presence in any one location, specialized resources are often lacking, ultimately presenting a high barrier to entering agricultural jobs and further marginalizing these veterans. Agriculture is not directly supported by Veterans Affairs – veterans cannot use education funds for most farm training and often cannot use vocational training funds for farm related occupations. In addition, many veterans have unique disabilities (e.g. amputations, PTSD) and training and resources need to include mechanisms to address these issues. Over the last two years, the Northeast Beginning Farmer Program has begun receiving an increasing number of requests each month from veterans seeking assistance.
To enhance the resources and training available to military veterans interested in farming, we will team with established Veterans groups to:
• Create a statewide service provider network for organizations to support agriculture training for veterans
• Implement multiple education strategies to engage and train military/ veterans who want to farm
Want to receive news about the ‘Farm Ops’ programs for Veterans in ag?
Head over to the Small Farms Program website and be sure to check the ‘Veteran’ box when you sign up.
Also, please consider joining the New York State Veterans in Agriculture Network Listserve:
What is this Listserve?
Through a grant from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program the Cornell Small Farms Program has begun to create a statewide service provider network for organizations to support agriculture training for veterans. At the same time we plan to implement multiple education strategies to engage and train military veterans who want to farm. We will be using this listserve to communicate with you as we begin to implement initiatives across the state. In turn, we hope you will use this as a tool to let others in the state know about events and trainings or discuss issues which would be relevant to veterans in agriculture.
Who’s Part of the Network?
This listserve is for New York state veterans who are interested in farming or are already farming and the service providers who work with them. We hope that this email list will serve as a valuable networking tool for this audience. Feel free to invite other people you know in the state who should be part of this network by having them follow the following instructions:
How do I Join?
From the email address you’d like to use for your list subscription, send an email to NYVETSAG-Lfirstname.lastname@example.org and type the word “join” (without quotations) in the body of the message.
Veteran Scholarships for online courses
The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to offer partial scholarships for military veterans to take our online courses as part of the Farm Ops initiative. The courses, normally $250, will be offered to veterans for $125. In order to be eligible a person must be a veteran or active duty military, a resident of New York State, and have plans to begin selling farm products (filing a Schedule F) in 2016 or 2017. In order to view the course offerings and schedules go to: http://www.nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses/. If you are eligible and would like to apply for a scholarship, complete a short form here. Registration is limited and will be offered first come, first served. Participants will be asked to complete a targeted survey at the end of the course as well as 6 months from completion, to determine the effect on their operation.
Armed to Farm: Intensive Week-long Beginning Farmer Training for Veterans
As part of our educational programming, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will deliver their ‘Armed to Farm’ program to NY farmer veterans beginning in August 2015. This program provides an intensive, week-long residential business and entrepreneurship training for veterans interested in farming. ‘Armed to Farm’ has been tested around the country and evaluations by veterans who have participated in the program are exceedingly positive. If you are interested in this opportunity please be sure to sign up for our E-news updates and check the ‘Veteran’ box to be added to our veterans in ag. listserve. The third and final Armed to Farm will take place in Eastern NY in the Summer of 2017. Stay tuned here for details on that.
Regional Learning Networks
Working with our partners in Cornell Cooperative Extension and other regional leaders, we will create farmer-to-farmer learning groups for veterans to gather, prioritize educational goals, learn from each other, and develop mentoring relationships with other farms and organizations available to support their goals. In addition to these learning groups, these regional networks may also gather for more intensive day long trainings, farm tours, or field days.
If you are interested in being involved in in your region please contact the leader for that region:
Host a Veteran through On-the-Job Training on YOUR farm!
Northeast Beginning Farmer Project staff is working with the New York Division of Veterans Affairs as well as other state agencies to identify five NY farms that are willing and can be approved to to provide on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities for veterans. Achieving approval for this is not a lengthy process and could allow veterans to access OJT/apprenticeship funds provided by VA/GI benefits. Traditionally, OJT has been focused on trades but this novel strategy will link traditional VA support to agricultural training. If you are a farmer interested in hosting a veteran employee for on-the-job training, please contact us and we will be happy to explain the process to you!
Michael O’Gorman, Farmer Veteran Coalition
Lynn Bliven, CCE – Allegany/Cattaraugus Co.
Catherine Moore, CCE – Jefferson Co.
Tom Bryant, VetFarms
Leora Barish, Heroic Food Farm
Margo Hale, National Center for Appropriate Technology
Bradd Vickers, Veterans & Farmers Alliance
James Schmeling, Institute for Veterans and Military Families
Anu Rangarajan, Erica Frenay, and Dean Koyanagi, Cornell Small Farms Program
For questions or further details, please check out our handy Veteran_RackCard
Or contact Project Coordinator Matt Weiss by email, or call 607-255-9911.