Rural communities remain the backbone of America. The food that fills the stomachs of millions of American are grown in these communities and more than 44 percent of military recruits who sacrifice to serve this country, come from rural areas.
The USDA Farm Service Agency thanks the millions of service men and women for their courage by providing opportunities and offering resources to help them return to their rural roots and begin or continue to farm.
“Every citizen in this nation, whether on the farm or in a city, owes a debt of gratitude to the people who voluntarily serve the nation in the armed services,” said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia. “We encourage returning soldiers, sailors and airmen to contact FSA to learn of the programs we offer that can help them achieve their next goals in life on the farm, on the ranch or with FSA. They served their country, now it’s our turn to serve them.”
Through outreach and recruitment efforts during fiscal year 2013, FSA made contact with 1,114 disabled veterans during 30 veteran-specific events. These events gave attendees information about special hiring authorities within USDA, resume writing tips and answers to employment inquiries.
FSA also partnered with the American Legion, Farmers Veteran Coalition, Wounded Warriors, Ground Operations, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and state employment agencies to conduct or attend 12 job fairs, workshops or meetings that informed veterans of job opportunities.
Aside from providing job opportunities, FSA’s new microloan program offers loans up to $35,000 to help veterans expand and grow small farming operations. Since its implementation in January 2013, FSA assisted 232 veterans with microloans and provided credit to 182 veterans through the guaranteed loan program. An additional 837 veterans received credit through the direct loan program. In total, military veterans received more than $107 million in FSA loans in fiscal year 2013.
To further assist veterans who may suffer financial hardships when called to active military duty, FSA enacted the Service Members Civil Relief Act and the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act to reduce loan interest rates, defer payments or extend terms for farmers on active duty.
The Farm Service Agency will continue to support and provide opportunities for veterans and active duty military and we honor them this Veteran’s Day for their service, selflessness and sacrifice.