Veterans & Beginning Farmers

Click here for the new AgrAbility brochure for veterans in agriculture

The National AgrAbility Project is committed to helping military veterans who choose agriculture as their “Next Mission,” as well as beginning farmers with disabilities or other functional limitations.

“As military veterans, we’re always looking for that next mission, and with farming I think that mission is to provide healthy food to our communities.” Sara Creech, U.S. Air Force veteran

If you are a veteran or beginning farmer with an interest in farming, ranching, or other agricultural careers, or you simply want to learn more about our services, please feel free to contact AgrAbility:

AgrAbility is proud to partner with the Farmer Veteran Coalition and to support the Homegrown By Heroes Program.

Resources Specifically for Farmer Veterans

View The Next Mission: Breaking Down Barriers for Veterans in Agriculture

Training & Employment

  • Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture – Veteran Farmer Program
    Arcadia Center, based in Alexandria, Virginia, offers veterans a 12-month, one weekend per month, hands-on training program focusing on food production and marketing.  Also, one- or two-year paid fellowships are available where participants are immersed in all aspects of production and business operations. top
  • Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AiSA)
    Archi’s Acres was created in 2006 by a former combat Marine and his wife with the objectives of developing a business that would provide ownership opportunity for veterans and creating a viable sustainable organic produce farm operation.  AiSA (formerly Veteran’s Sustainable Agriculture Training), in conjunction with Cal Poly, offers intensive 6- and 12-week training courses in organic agribusiness. top
  • BattleGround to Breaking Ground – Texas AgrAbility
    Texas AgrAbility is offering workshops for veterans who are interested in agricultural business start-up and business plan development.  The BattleGround to Breaking Ground Project is a three-phase hands-on and online educational program available to veterans, active duty military, their families, and beginning farmers and ranchers. top
  • Boots on the Ground: North Carolina Veteran Farmer Apprenticeship
    A year-long registered apprenticeship program for military veterans that aims to increase the pool of trained agricultural workers for management and entrepreneurial positions at farming operations in North Carolina. Provides access to high quality and accessible farmer training through a 12 month registered apprenticeship that provides 30-40 hours of paid employment weekly, a monthly supplemental stipend, related technical/classroom instruction, multiple avenues of mentorship, and allows for the use of GI Bill education benefits if eligible. top
  • Veteran Farmers Project—Center for Rural Affairs (CRFA)
    CFRA Veteran Farmers Project offers individual consultations with professionals for financial and production advice, a HelpLine for phone and email inquiries, resources, and support, and a webinar on resources for veterans as new farmers. top
  • Cornell University Small Farms Program – Farm Ops
    Cornell’s Farm Ops program provides mentoring, training, and resources for veterans interested in farming.  Farm Ops is part of the Cornell Small Farms Program, which offers a wide variety of educational opportunities for small and beginning farmers. top
  • Desert Forge Foundation
    The mission of the Desert Forge Foundation is restoring emotional, mental, and physical health to returning veterans through meaningful job training, employment, and the arts.  This agriculturally-based organization is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. top
  • F.A.R.M. (Farmers Assisting Returning Military)
    The F.A.R.M., a veterans’ organization located in Desoto, Texas, conducts farm therapy and TBI/PTSD therapy reintegration through agricultural internships and career opportunities. top
  • Farmer Veteran Coalition
    Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is national program dedicated to increasing veterans’ awareness of agriculture and helping them break into the agricultural industry.  FVC believes that food production benefits veterans on both physical and psychological levels. top
  • Fields4Valor
    Seven-acre farm in Brandywine, Maryland, grows fresh produce and makes weekly deliveries of fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, honey and other seasonal items to veterans and their families in need in the Washington, DC metropolitan area — all at no cost. In addition to food donations, Fields4Valor offers programs for veterans and their families, including culinary classes and beekeeping training along with employment, housing, and volunteer opportunities on the farm. top
  • Freedom Farm for Vets
    Freedom Farm For Vets is a nonprofit working farm with a main purpose of growing vegetables, offering therapeutic animal interaction, and providing a peaceful and purposeful place for veterans to go. The farm in Wadsworth, Illinois is open to all veterans and their families. top
  • Growing Veterans
    Located in the Pacific Northwest, Growing Veterans helps veterans learn the trade of agriculture through hands-on participation. They assist the transition from military to civilian life while working with partners to provide resources to veterans including employment, volunteering, internships, and fellowships. top
  • Growing Warriors
    Growing Warriors is a national program that helps teach veterans and communities to grow and preserve their own food while partnering with local organizations to create hands-on curriculum to veterans and their families in a community garden setting. top
  • Heroes to Hives
    Heroes to Hives is a unique program offered through Michigan State University Extension that seeks to address financial and personal wellness of veterans through professional training and community development centered around beekeeping. top
  • Heroic Food
    Heroic Food is a nonprofit organization based in New York state. Its mission is to prepare and train military veterans for careers in sustainable farming, agricultural trades, and food entrepreneurship in a veteran-supportive environment. top
  • Hives for Heroes
    Hives for Heroes is connecting heroes, military veterans, and first responders interested in beekeeping with experienced beekeepers in their local community. top
  • Indiana AgVets Certification and Internship Program
    The Indiana AgVets Certification and Internship Program is an agricultural career training opportunity specifically for U.S. military veterans in Indiana or surrounding states. The program prepares participants for rewarding careers in production agriculture or agribusiness by providing specialized training tailored to the veteran’s personal interests and career aspirations, and paid internships in a farm or agricultural service business. top
  • NCAT Armed to Farm
    The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Armed to Farm program focuses on training and providing technical assistance and resource materials for military veterans interested in sustainable and organic agriculture. top
  • Operation Groundwork
    This program was founded by an Air Force veteran on Blue Yonder Organic Farm near North Salem, Indiana.  Operation Groundwork offers training programs and support for veterans interested in sustainable agriculture. top
  • Reining Liberty Ranch
    Reining Liberty Ranch serves veterans, their families, and disabled/at-risk individuals in the Traverse City, Michigan, area. The ranch programs focus on the horse-human relationship and include relational horsemanship, therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, equine-facilitated learning, and agricultural activities. top
  • Veterans & Heroes to Agriculture
    West Virginia Veterans & Heroes to Agriculture enables veterans to work with fellow veterans to learn agricultural practices and food production. They identify veterans, market farm products, cooperate with the VA, work in rehabilitation sites, and create long-term growth environments for veterans. top
  • Veterans Healing Farm
    Veterans Healing Farm in North Carolina offers workshops on innovative farming techniques and fosters a community of veterans and civilians who build deep friendships and cultivate emotional, physical, and spiritual health. High-quality fruits, vegetables, and flower bouquets are donated to veterans and their caregivers free of charge. top
  • Veterans to Farmers
    Started by a Marine in 2009, Veterans to Farmers is a Denver, Colorado, based program that offers veterans intensive training courses in aeroponics and hydroponics, small scale organic production, maintenance/construction, and business ownership. top
  • Veterans Urban Farm
    The Veterans Urban Farm under the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) in Columbia, Missouri, is a place for veterans to benefit from the therapeutic, vocational, and recreational aspects of horticulture in a supportive, community-centered environment.
  • The Veterans Urban Farming Project
    The Veterans Urban Farming Project is dedicated to a two goals: (1) enabling veterans to derive the full range of financial benefits from self-sufficiency and (2) to overcome the emotional, mental, and physical scars of war while transitioning back to civilian life. top
  • Warriors that Farm
    Warriors that Farm provides a healing/growing environment for veterans and trains future farmers in sustainable agriculture.  This Texas organization offers a structured, immersion style, on-farm fellowship program with fellow veterans. top

Financial Assistance

  • FVC Fellowship Fund
    The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a small grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans who are in their beginning years of farming or ranching.  Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, and more than $1.9 million has been awarded to veterans since 2011. Equipment, not funding, is provided directly to recipients. top
  •  Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – 2018 Farm Bill Veteran Farmers
    Veterans of the U.S. Armed Services receive preference for NRCS conservation programs offered in the 2014 Farm Bill. These voluntary conservation programs benefit both agricultural producers and the environment, and include financial and technical assistance as well as easements. top
  • VA Home Loans for Farms
    The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA)  Home Loan benefit may be used to purchase a farm.  There must be a farm residence on the land, and the Veteran must live in it as his or her primary residence.   VA-guaranteed loans can only be used for residential purposes and not to purchase a business.  This means that some farm properties may not be eligible for purchase using a VA-backed home loan. top

Resource Guides

  • The Farm Bureau Resource Guide to Assist Veterans in Agriculture
    Farm Bureau and the Farmer Veteran Coalition have partnered to enhance Farm Bureau’s impact at the local, state, and national level for veterans interested in agriculture. The guide helps align the Farm Bureau Young Farmers’ and Ranchers’ program with the needs of veterans. top
  • Government Resources Guide for Farmer Veterans
    This guide is a collaborative effort of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Drake University Law School Agricultural Law Center.  The publication provides an overview of USDA, VA, Small Business Administration, and U.S. Department of Labor programs and resources for veterans. top
  • Veteran Careers in Agriculture: A Resource Guide
    This guide published by the Farmer Veteran Coalition contains a wide variety of information useful to veterans considering a career in agriculture.  Topics include funding, education and training opportunities, using the GI Bill, business planning, available resources, farm enterprise options, and much more. top

Other Resources

    • BeginningFarmers.Org Military Veteran Farmer Training
      This page provides links and referrals to farm-related training programs around the country geared toward veterans.  BeginningFarmers.org also includes numerous resources covering a variety of topics appropriate for any beginning farmer. top
    • Ground Operations – Battlefields to Farm Fields
      Ground Operations is a group of filmmakers who have come together in hopes of continuing to build the growing network of veterans who are going into agriculture as a means of transitioning back into civilian life and starting a career. The site also has a resource page for interested veterans. top
    • Homegrown by Heroes
      The Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) label is the official farmer veteran branding program of America. The label serves to inform consumers that agricultural products donning the logo were produced by U.S. military veterans.  Farms and businesses displaying the logo denotes a Homegrown By Heroes-certified operation. top
    • USDA New Farmer Veteran Website
      Includes links to programs and resources (including financial support), success stories, and career opportunities for veterans seeking to become involved in agricultural production or employment in an agricultural occupation. top

Conference Presentations

Resources for Veterans

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • VA Caregiver Support Program
    With many of today’s veterans dealing with PTSD , TBI’s, or other long-term conditions, the VA has a website highlighting support and service options available to those caring for loved ones who have served.  A section of the site is dedicated to caregiver resources and programs for seriously injured post-9/11 veterans. top
  • VA Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
    The Transition Assistance Program is coordinated through the VA and is a joint collaboration between the VA and the U.S. Departments of Defense and Labor.  Its purpose is to help veterans make the transition from military life back into civilian life through work, life, and home. top
  • National Center for PTSD
    The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and post traumatic stress disorder. This site outlines how to recognize PTSD and ask for help or seek help. It also discusses benefits and different forms of treatment available. top
  • Polytrauma and Traumatic Brain Injury
    A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can happen from a blow or jolt to the head or an object penetrating the brain. Polytrauma occurs when a person experiences injuries to multiple body parts and organ systems.  The VA has compiled a website to explain the VA’s polytrauma/TBI system of care and provide resources and information about the conditions for caregivers. top
  • VA Crisis Hotline
    The Veterans Crisis Line connects callers with responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs, many of whom are veterans themselves.  The crisis line can be accessed by phone at 1-800-273-8255, and there are options for texting or online chat. top
  • Veterans Employment Services Office (VESO)
    VA jobs for Vets helps veterans and transitioning service members find federal jobs. It also develops and implements innovative and comprehensive programs, procedures, and services to support federal veteran recruitment and VA retention and reintegration. top
  • VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
    The goals of VR&E, also known as Chapter 31, are to assist with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job searching skills. The VR&E program also helps veterans with independent living arrangements and those who are severely disabled and unable to work in a traditional workplace. top

Training & Employment (including non-farm work)

  • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV)
    The EBV program leverages the skills, resources, and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities. top
  • National Labor Exchange
    The National Labor Exchange (NLx) represents a unique, public-private partnership between Direct Employers (DE) and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA).  The NLx is a robust resource for employers and state workforce agencies to connect workers with job openings. top
  • USAJOBS
    USAJOBS.gov is the source for finding and applying to federal civilian jobs.  Many federal positions offer application preference to military veterans or to military spouses.  A searchable database allows job seekers to identify openings by location, job classification, security clearance, and other factors.  Instruction for online job application is provided. top
  • United States Department of Agriculture’s Veterans’ Employment Program
    The USDA Veterans Employment Program provides leadership and guidance on the employment of veterans within the USDA.  This site provides links useful to veterans seeking employment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. top
  • U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Veterans Services
    The Veterans and Military Transition Center section of CareerOneStop is specifically geared toward veterans transitioning to civilian careers, and helps job seekers wanting to apply jobs skill gained in the military to civilian positions. top
  • U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program
    Apprenticeships allow individuals to earn a salary while learning the skills necessary to succeed in high-demand careers.  Employers focus their programs on high standards, instructional rigor, and quality training.  This site highlights apprenticeship opportunities for a wide variety of professions. top
  • Feds Hire Vets
    The federal government is committed to employment of veterans.  This website specializes in veterans searching for jobs in the federal government and has different multimedia resources and information for veterans and those in transition. top

Other Resources

  • VA Post-9/11 GI Bill Information
    The new GI Bill is focused on post-9/11 veterans (Iraq and Afghanistan). This VA site provides details about the education benefits available to veterans, and includes a GI Bill Comparison Tool to help veterans determine how to best use the available benefits. top
  • IAVA’s Veterans Education Calculator
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) supports veterans through a variety of programming and advocacy efforts.  The Veterans Education Calculator allows veterans to get the best information possible and maximize benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. top
  • Star Behavioral Health Providers
    Star Behavioral Health Providers is a resource for veterans, service members, and their families for locating behavioral health professionals with specialized training in understanding and treating military and families. It began in Indiana and is now offered in multiple states. top
  • Veterans Services Organization Directory
    The VSO Directory lists all congressionally-chartered and other veterans service organizations recognized by the VA, along with those chartered that are not recognized by the VA.  Other organizations representing the interests of American veterans that may not be chartered or recognized are listed as well. top

Resources for Beginning Farmers

USDA Services, including financial assistance

  • United States Department of Agriculture
    This site is the home page for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. top
  • Cooperative Extension Service
    The Cooperative Extension Service provides non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country — to farmers and other residents of rural communities as well as to people living in urban areas.  This site provides links to each state’s land grant universities, which coordinate Extension programs within their state. top
  • eXtension
    eXtension.org provides a portal to educational resources about a wide variety of topics from Cooperative Extension professionals from throughout the country.  top
  • Farmers.gov
    Farmers.gov provides farmers, ranchers, private, and agricultural producers with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities, and business tools to increase efficiency and productivity while preserving and fostering long-held traditional relationships between local USDA offices and producers. top
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
    The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance for agricultural conservation programs throughout the country.  This site is the home page for the agency, and has links to available services, initiatives,  and state NRCS offices. top
  • SARE: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
    SARE is a nationwide program to improve profitability, stewardship, and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking education and research to help advance American agriculture.  Divided into the North Central, Northeast, South, and West Regions, SARE operates a competitive grant and education program in every state. top
  • USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
    The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for food, fiber, and specialty crop producers. It also provides the agricultural industry with valuable services to ensure availability and quality of wholesome foods for consumers. top
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
    The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers a variety of support, service, and incentive programs for agricultural producers.  Some programs are specific to veterans or may offer veterans preference.  This site is the agency home page. top
  • USDA Rural Development
    USDA Rural Development was created to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. It offers loans and grants to support services such as housing, economic development, health care, first responder equipment and services, and rural America’s water, electric, and communication infrastructure. top
  • USDA Risk Management Agency
    The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.  RMA provides crop insurance to American farmers and ranchers through the FCIC. The RMA also sponsors educational and outreach programs and seminars to the topic of risk management. top
  • USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
    The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). top

Other Financial Assistance

  • Farm Credit
    Farm Credit Services is a national agribusiness that offers loans, leases, and financial services to farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses and helps fund agriculture-related endeavors, insurance, and education. top
  • Small Business Administration
    The SBA was created in 1953 to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small business owners as well as strengthen and maintain the overall economy of the nation. Their main goal is to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses. top
  • International Farm Transition Network
    The International Farm Transition Network supports programs that foster the next generation of farmers and ranchers by addressing challenges in farm entry such as farm succession and retirement strategies. top

Beginning Farmer Websites

  • Beginning Farmers
    Beginning Farmers contains a wide variety of links and resources useful to any beginning farmer or someone interested in pursuing an agricultural career.  While focused on small-scale and sustainable agriculture, the site contains information useful to any new farmer. top
  • Farm Answers
    Farm Answers is the USDA-NIFA beginning farmer and rancher clearinghouse, providing resources to help you get started in farming, as well as tools to help more seasoned producers succeed.top
  • Farmers
    Farmers provides farmers, ranchers, private foresters, and agricultural producers with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities, and business tools to increase efficiency and productivity while preserving and fostering long-held traditional relationships between local USDA offices and producers. top
  • Purdue University Diversified Farming and Food
    This comprehensive site provides educational resources for local food producers, organic agriculture, urban agriculture, and beginning and small-scale farmers. top
  • USDA Beginning Farmer Website
    This website highlights federal resources for individuals just starting into farming, including information on how a new farmer might receive financial aid via the Farm Bill. It is also a gateway for links to various USDA programs and resources useful to beginning farmers and veterans. top
  • USDA New Farmer Website
    USDA’s website offers information and resources for new farmers, women in agriculture, youth, veterans, and others. Includes a “Discovery Tool” personalized web search function that can provide individualized information based on basic user data. top

Training & Employment

  • Cornell University Small Farms Program
    Cornell University provides a wide variety of resources useful to small and beginning farmers.  The program includes workshops and online courses through Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as many online publications and materials. top
  • The Center for Land-Based Learning Farm Academy
    The California Farm Academy includes a seven-month training program that provides beginning farmers with technical skills, competency, and resources to grow and thrive in a farming career.  The program also includes a formal apprenticeship option, and a farm business incubator. top
  •  Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas -ATTRA
    ATTRA provides information and technical assistance to farmers, rancher, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture.  The website includes a directory of internship, apprenticeship, and job opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture in the U.S. and Canada. top
  • Agricultural Job Listings/Job Boards
    Numerous web sites specialize in agricultural job listings or postings.  Rather than attempting to create a comprehensive list of sites, we recommend using your preferred search engine for keywords such as: “agricultural job listings,” “agriculture job boards,” “farm jobs,” “sustainable agriculture jobs,” “horticulture jobs,” “agricultural placement services,” etc. top

Farm Outreach & Advocacy

  • National Farmers Union
    The National Farmers Union’s goal is to protect and enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through advocating grassroots driven policy positions. top
  • Farm Bureau
    Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity, and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being. top
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
    The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocate for federal policy reform in order to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. They have groups all over the country and have direct representation in Washington, D.C. top