Veterans deserve help to get into farming

Sen. Tina Smith on Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making up to $16 million available to eligible groups and organizations to fund efforts to get veterans and non-traditional farmers in Minnesota and across the country to get into agriculture.

In the release, Smith said she pushed to reauthorize the funding during the debate over the 2018 Farm Bill as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The funding is available through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program. That’s a long name for a good program.

“Too often, Minnesota veterans or residents from communities who traditionally have not been involved in agriculture, find barriers to getting into farming,” Smith said. That’s not a secret. Startup costs to get into farming are overwhelming.

And veterans deserve the help. They served our country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a larger percent of veterans live in rural America than members of the general public. This program that Smith talks about can help veterans looking to return to the family farm get the tools and opportunities needed to succeed.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 15. We encourage interested veterans and non-traditional farmers to reach out to the USDA for the help and jump start an agricultural career.

We also urge Smith and other lawmakers to continue to push for more funding to help young people get the skills they need to fill the important agriculture and technical jobs of today and in the future.