USDA, DOD to provide transitioning service members with agriculture training

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2015 - USDA and the Department of Defense (DOD) announced a partnership Monday that would add agriculture to the career training and counseling provided to the 200,000 service members leaving the military and returning to civilian life every year.

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“When service members return home, we want them to know that rural America has a place for them - no matter where they're from,” Krysta Harden, the deputy secretary of USDA, said in a statement. “This expanded collaboration between USDA and DOD will help to ensure that returning service members know that there are a wide variety of loans, grants, training and technical assistance for veterans who are passionate about a career in agriculture, no matter their experience level.”

According to USDA, this initiative will ensure the estimated 200,000 service members who complete the Transition Assistance Program annually have access to USDA programs ranging from “farm loans to conservation programs to nutrition assistance to rural rental housing and homeownership opportunities.”

Susan Kelly, the director of DOD's Transition to Veterans Program Office, said “transitioning service members leave the military with a variety of essential skills - including leadership and discipline - that could be directly applied to a career in agriculture.”

Over the last six years, USDA has given nearly 6,500 veterans $438 million in farm loans to purchase farmland and improve their operations. Since January 2013, the department also provided $22.6 million in microloans to over 1,000 veterans expanding their farming operations.

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