An organization based in Michigan is working to help veterans find their future in farming. Trinity Farms is working with veterans from all branches of the military and helping them grow something, giving them comfort, after seeing death and destruction while on duty across the world.
Trinity Farms was established by Jim Welder in 2013 and has grown the farm to 900 acres. The farm houses corn, soybeans and hops. Veterans turn to farming because it gives them a sense of purpose, which many seek after being removed from the military. Veterans have become attracted because of the number of programs becoming available to beginning farmers who served in the military.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition is made up of more than 8,000 members since 2008. Half of its members grew up around farms in rural communities. “Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam provided Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with an overview of USDA’s support for veterans. Baccam, a proud army veteran, also serves as the Department’s Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison.”
The USDA also has programs that help veterans who are interested in starting a farm or ranch. According to the USDA Research Service, unemployment for post-military population fell to five percent in 2015. Unemployment for young rural veterans fell to 7.9 percent. The USDA has established more partnerships to help veterans find careers in agriculture.
The USDA launched an agriculture based workshop, which allows the Department of Defense to engage directly with members to inform them about the programs that are tailored to help them pursue farming such as: AgrAbility, Our National Institute for Food and Agriculture, and Armed to Farm. The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund has issued $1.2 million for purchases for farming equipment such as fences and livestock. With all the positive attributes that farming brings to veterans, their training and experience also positions them to thrive in the industry, which can often be fraught with hardships. Agriculture organizations across the country are ready and willing to introduce veterans to farming.