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Legislation would improve support for veteran farmers

By Jessica Domel

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has introduced a bill designed to expand support for military veterans involved in agriculture.

According to the committee, the Farmer Veteran Opportunity Act of 2018 makes all new veterans eligible for support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“When our veterans retire from active service, whether here or abroad, they need certainty and opportunity,” Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said. “I’m proud to co-sponsor a bill that allows men and women who have served our country to return to the farm.”

The proposed legislation also improves access for farmer veterans across eight existing initiatives.

“Agriculture offers our veterans rewarding careers and the opportunity to continue serving our nation by feeding our families,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, committee ranking member, said. “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.”

Stabenow said the legislation will make risk management tools more affordable, expand access to land and capital and prioritize training for veterans.

If passed, the legislation will expand support for all new veterans who may have existing careers in agriculture.

Currently, USDA programs only provide support for veterans entering agriculture for the first time.

“American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes introduction of the Support for Veteran Farmers Act of 2018. Rural America has always answered the call to serve. This legislation recognizes that commitment to country and the sacrifice of military service. We look forward to working with Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow to get the Support for Veteran Farmers Act enacted into law,” Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, said.

According to the committee, the legislation will build on provisions in the current farm bill.

The bipartisan bill is supported by AFBF, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, National Farmers Union, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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