VET-2-FARM Act In­tro­duced

Riverbank News - - SPORTS -

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jeff Den­ham (R-Calif.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) have in­tro­duced H.R. 6500, the Vet­eran Em­pow­er­ment and Train­ing to Fa­cil­i­tate Agri­cul­tural Re­vi­tal­iza­tion and Mo­bi­liza­tion Act (VET-2-FARM Act) of 2018, to bet­ter con­nect vet­eran pop­u­la­tions with an agri­cul­ture in­dus­try that is in dire need of a new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers.

“As a vet­eran and an al­mond farmer my­self, I know first­hand the dis­ci­pline, ded­i­ca­tion, and pas­sion re­quired in both fields,” said Rep. Den­ham. “This bill will help bring forth a new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers while con­nect­ing vet­er­ans to jobs in which they can thrive.”

The VET-2-FARM Act in­vests in vet­er­ans look­ing to en­ter agri­cul­ture ca­reers by pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about avail­able jobs, ap­pren­tice­ships, job train­ing, and ed­u­ca­tion through a USDA web- site, pri­or­i­tiz­ing train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for vet­eran farm­ers, mak­ing risk man­age­ment tools more af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble, and im­prov­ing ac­cess to loans and land for vet­er­ans look­ing to start and ex­pand their ag busi­nesses.

The U.S. agri­cul­ture in­dus­try is fac­ing a grow­ing prob­lem, with the av­er­age age of farm­ers at 60 years old and the ex­ist­ing farm­ing pop­u­la­tion ag­ing out. As the na­tion’s ser­vice mem­bers re­turn home, they bring with them their ex­cep­tional skill set, dis­ci­pline, and de­vo­tion to the na­tion. Like­wise, many vet­er­ans have found farm­ing to be a great tran­si­tion back into civil­ian life. The in­ter­sec­tion of the ag­ing farm­ing pop­u­la­tion with the grow­ing in­ter­est by vet­er­ans in agri­cul­ture is an ideal op­por­tu­nity to sup­port the next gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can farm­ers and ranch­ers.

In May, Den­ham’s re­lated amend­ment to re­quire USDA to pro­vide re­sources and in­for­ma­tion for vet­er­ans on how they can use their GI ben­e­fits for farm­ing and agri­cul­tural pro­grams passed the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as part of the Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act of 2019. This larger bill builds upon this pre­vi­ous work and gives vet­er­ans the tools they need to use their hard-earned ben­e­fits to learn prac­ti­cal skills and launch ca­reers in agri­cul­ture.

Con­gress­man Den­ham rep­re­sents Cal­i­for­nia’s 10th con­gres­sional dis­trict, which in­cludes Stanis­laus County and a por­tion of San Joaquin County. He is the chair­man of the House Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Sub­com­mit­tee on Rail­roads, Pipe­lines and Haz­ardous Ma­te­ri­als and also serves on the House Com­mit­tees on Agri­cul­ture and Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

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