Historic Recognition for Veterans in 2014 Farm Bill

Prepared by Ed Cox, Agricultural Law Center, Drake Law, for the Farmer Veteran Coalition


Below is a description of the new programs for veteran farmers in the Bill as it is being sent to the President.  Veterans and supporters interested in finding out more about these programs can contact us at info@farmvetco.org or call at 530.756.1395.


Veteran Farmer or Rancher Definition


Veteran Farmer Defined:


Definition of Veteran Farmer or Rancher. – The term “veteran farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who has served in the Armed Forces and who -

has not operated a farm or ranch; or
has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 years.

“Veteran Farmers” are now recognized as a distinct class of farmer. The Veteran Farmer definition is essentially the same as that for beginning farmers and ranchers with the added requirement of service in the Armed Forces. This includes service in the:


  • -Army
  • -Navy
  • -Marine Corps
  • -Air Force
  • -Coast Guard
  • -Reserves
  • -Army National Guard
  • -Air National Guard


This important classification allows veterans to receive additional assistance for agricultural programs as described below.


CRP Transition Incentive Program


Land sales and leases to veteran farmers are now specifically eligible for the Transition Incentive Program (TIP). Under the Conservation Reserve Program retiring farmers with land in CRP can receive additional payments for leasing or selling the land to a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, and, now, a veteran farmer or rancher.


The purpose of the program is to make land available to new farmers while ensuring that land coming out of CRP is farmed or grazed in a sustainable manner.


Benefits of TIP:


  • -Two years of additional CRP payments to the landowner,
  • -Allows the veteran farmer that will be leasing or purchasing the land to commence conservation and land improvements, including preparation for planting, a year prior to CRP contract expiration,
  • -Allows the veteran farmer to begin the organic certification process a year prior to the CRP expiration, and
  • -Provides the opportunity for the farmer veteran to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and to reenroll parts of the property in CRP under the Continuous CRP signup.


Requirements for TIP:


  • -The owner of the CRP land must be retired or retiring,
  • -The owner must agree to sell or enter a long-term lease (5 years) or lease with an option to purchase with the veteran farmer, and
  • -The veteran farmer must develop and follow a conservation plan for sustainable grazing or crop production.


Conservation Programming Preference for Veteran Farmers


The USDA is required to set aside a portion of funding for EQIP and a portion of the acres available for CSP for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The amount is 5% for beginning farmers and ranchers and 5% for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The new Farm Bill now requires that a preference be given to veteran farmers and ranchers that fall within at least one of the set-aside categories.


The USDA is also now authorized to provide additional incentives to veteran farmers for participation in conservation programs that provide new farming and ranching opportunities and enhance long-term environmental goals.


Direct Operating Loan Assistance for Veteran Farmers


The legislation modifies the USDA Operating Loan program to limit the interest rate that may be charged to farmer veterans on direct operating loans. The interest rate is set by the Department of Agriculture but is limited to approximately half the rate that may be charged for direct loans to other producers. (The rates for USDA Guaranteed Loans through private lenders are negotiated between the lender and the borrower, though USDA can establish a maximum rate.)


Direct operating loans may be used for the following items:


  • -Livestock and feed
  • -Farm equipment
  • -Fuel, farm chemicals, insurance and other operating costs, including family living expenses
  • -Minor improvements or repairs to buildings
  • -Refinance certain farm-related debts, excluding real estate


Priority for Value-Added Marketing Development Grants


This program is one of the few instances in which private farmers may directly receive grants for their business. The purpose is to assist farm businesses and producer groups in developing business plans and strategies to market value-added products.


In awarding grants to producers under this program, the USDA must now give a priority to veteran farmers and ranchers, along with small and medium-sized family farms, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


The Farm Bill also increases the mandatory budget for this program from $15 million to $63 million.


Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program


The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) administers grants to organizations providing training, education, outreach, and technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. This has been one of the most critical and successful programs to help new and aspiring farmers. Under the 2014 Farm Bill assistance for veteran farmers is made a priority under the BFRDP.


First, “agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans” is specifically listed as a service that is eligible for BFRDP funding.


Second, the legislation sets aside 5% of the funding for the BFRDP exclusively for use in programs and services that address the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers. This set-aside is separate and distinct from the 5% that remains set aside for limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


Third, recipients of BFRDP grants serving veteran farmers and ranchers are encouraged to coordinate efforts with recipients of grants through the Assistive Technology Program for farmers and ranchers with disabilities. This allows BFRDP to develop additional partnerships and leverage funding to provide a greater impact with their BFRDP project.


Outreach and Assistance for Veteran Farmers and Ranchers


The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers has been expanded to include veterans. This allows the USDA to provide additional technical assistance to veterans focused on enabling farm ownership and operation as well as outreach to encourage participation in USDA programs.


Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison


The Farm Bill legislation also increases advocacy and coordination for veteran farmers and ranchers by creating the position of Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison. This position will help connect returning veterans with agricultural programs as well as assist in the use of veterans education benefits for a farm or ranching career. The Liaison will also advocate on behalf of veterans in interactions with USDA employees. This position appears to essentially facilitate critical two-way communication, providing information to veterans on fully utilizing government programs and ensuring USDA personnel understand unique veteran characteristics and implementation of new veteran farmer programs.


The Veterans Liaison will also be able to enter agreements with a variety of service providers to promote research, development of educational materials, workshops and vocational training, and mentorships and apprenticeships that serve veteran farmers.


30 responses to Historic Recognition for Veterans in 2014 Farm Bill

  • I am so excited to see this happen in early 2014. I have developed my own Social Enterprise to address employment and health issues related to nutritious food. Con10u2farm L3C, will grow better than organic food Aquaponically usuing Atmospheric generated water and solar for a unique growing and learning experience. Veterans are very much part of my Social Enterprise, that will be trained and educated on site, to grow, to compost, and to become agriprenuers!

  • Great recap. Allows time for veterans to put in application for EQUIP or CRP projects before final ranking by local USDA offices.

  • as a Veteran farmer a beginner with so much passion to feed people I am smiling so hard here in Michigan. Look out for AQUAPONCS to take over in public schools!

  • This is truly a huge win for all veterans who have returned and will be returning. I am glad to see it covers not only those of us who grew up around farming or ranching,but those who are just getting started as well.

  • This could not come at a better time.
    I am a Marine combat Vietnam Veteran and always have gone to the land for my own therapy.
    We will be taping into this new provision for our future Greenhouse and Hydroponic programs.

  • Thanks for the overview.

  • This is such good news to hear, as a new farmer and a veteran myself I can tell after going thru the loan process last year this is definitely something that has worth and value! To all of those that contributed to this I say, “Thank You”.

  • Great program, have small vineyards I farm and have hired vets to help with labor.

  • A true Country Boy can survive without government handouts which are socialist anti-free market rigging. Who is funding this anyways? I thought the US was broke that is why they have to borrow trillions of dollars and do direct monatization of the debt through the non-governmental banking cartel known as the federal reserve.

  • Why should veterans get special treatment because they volunteered to fight losing wars that were not in the best interest of the nation which were based on lies. 80% of the American people supported the Iraq war in the beginning, this is how dumb and gullable the people are. Also, poppy production is at an all time high in afghan and china owns the mining rights there as well. Way to go, and all done with borrowed money. Wake up people, your government is corrupt as all hell and the people are just plain dumb.

  • It is hard for me to believe some of the comments made, but I can tell you with certainty that allowing veteran preference in federal ag programs is long overdue. I will work hard to ensure our veterans are aware of this opportunity. And by the way, I am proud, as a taxpayer, to give something back to our veterans!

  • This is great news! Hopefully Growing Veterans can find a way to tap into these new resources. Thanks for sharing such a thorough break down FVC!

  • YES! As a Nurse “exhausted” with seeing Veterans sick because of poor food consumption habits, I am ready to start my “healthy foods” farm!

  • Awesome info!!!! FVC, thanks for all the hard lobbying work you do for us veterans! It is very much appreciated!

  • Exciting news as NRCS, FSA and Texas AgrAbility host workshops in Texas for veterans who want the resources and information to start farming/ranching. http://txagrability.tamu.edu/

  • I’ve been digging through the bill, and reading other analysis of the bill. Near as I can tell, “veteran farmer” is only a title. There is little or no difference in benifits between a “veteran farmer”, a “begining farmer”, and “veteran begining farmer”

  • I was at the White House during the Presidents State of the Union Address. When the President announced the extended benefits for Veteran Farmers in the 2014 Farm Bill, I was very grateful. Now, more veterans will be encouraged to farm and ranch and continue to “Serve America” by growing healthy food products.

  • It’s About Time!!!! So many folks in the military, including myself, who were trying so hard to raise the funds to purchase a farm. Yup! Certified Organic, but finding all sorts of snotty remarks, exclusions and crap, here in Michigan. Senator Stabenow, we need your help!

  • Texas workshops for veterans, active military and others are sharing this information as well as other programs that can help beginning farmers/ranchers. See today.agrilife.org/2014/04/07/battleground-a-workshop-belton

  • I am a retired veteran and now work for USDA Farm Service Agency, Farm Loans. I am a farm loan officer. With regards to farm loans, the new farm bill has given the Sec of Ag authority to modifiy some requirements for loans, such as years of farming required to be eligible for a Farm Land Loan. Veterans are not essentially classified in same grouping as Socially disadvantaged farmers, meaning loan funding has a priority. We hope the secretary will decrease farm experiance requirements for land purchases for Veterans fropm standard of 3 years to less than that. We have submitted recommendations to that affect. I encourage members of this organization to talk to your locall politicians about this as well as your contacts with USDA in Washington, as well as through USDA Blog web site.

  • Any help for an OIF vet in NC? I am only 3 classes from a degree in Horticulture. I would have finished this degree in 2010 but I got discouraged due to no available programs that I could find to help get me started farming as a new farmer here in Western NC.

  • Thanks! Very informative. I’m glad to see there are things like this out there!

  • Roger Godberd your a wad.

  • Robbie James – I am a veteran and I’m currently trying to buy land for a farm and start a cattle business. I grew up on a farm but never actually owned one myself but have helped my family for more then 6 years on theirs and also with neighbors. I spoke with my local USDA rep and he told me I could not get a farm loan because I need 3 Schedule Fs on my tax return. Could you email me and give me some info? nathanwalka@gmail.com

  • Roger Godberd, your comments about veterans is truly apaling !!!!! Have you ever served in a war ? Do you have a spouse who has served ? Well I do!! An what these men an women deal with after returning home is heart breaking!!! But as you said , they
    Volunted for this!!! It’s called serving your country jackass !!! An all the freedoms that you have an take advantage of , remember they volunted for that …
    Are you even American????

  • Friends if anyone is interested in investing in profitable farms here in Jacksonville, FL that works with veterans please contact us at info@veteransfarm.com We have access to turn key, profitable agriculture and farming operations that would allow you to make a living while working and training with vets. Farm owners can also qualify to receive a monthly stipend from the Veterans Farm for being a training host site

  • This is to ROGER GODBEARD. Obviously you have never served nor sacrificed anything more than your intelligence for this great nation and for that I salute you as you have done an exceptional job at that. Now since you don’t think that veterans should get special treatment for wars you disagree with than the government should also give you no assistance since you do not agree with any policy that is not in your favor. As a disabled vet I could attack you verbally but the military you think is so useless taught me composure and patience with ignorant people such as you. I think this program is great not because I am using it but if you look at history this is a tradition that has been extended to some of our greatest war heroes since the revolutionary war. Are you trying to say that they fought a useless war? If so feel free to go ahead and move to England you unpatriotic piece of ……… Never mind. Sorry to all others on this blog as I know it is not meant for that but I cannot stand cowards who want to criticize a war from their living room without having ever to sacrifice. To all those who have served I commend you, to all those who have not but support us vets I extend my utmost gratitude, and to those like roger the military will continue to protect you and your rights to be an idiot. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND ALL THOSE WHO PROTECT IT!

  • I cannot believe this news…. what an excellent opportunity for our Veterans, farmers old and new to jump into this world of farming.

    I’m in, but only as the purely Organic Farmer.

    Thank you Jesus!!!

  • As a medically retired and disabled veteran I am excited to see a program like this for veterans. Even more excited that a liaison is available to help navigate the process. I pray this program can help me purchase the land and equipment needed to pursue a dream of peaceful and balanced farming to close out the rest of my life

  • Very interesting your opinion ! and thank you for your share.

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    In conjunction with National Ag Day, Kubota Tractor Corporation has announced the launch of "Geared to Give," a new program in partnership with Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) that will provide financial support and donated Kubota equipment to U.S. military veterans pursuing a career in farming. Kubota and FVC jointly launched their partnership today at the California State Capitol in Sacramento during the Department of Food and Agriculture's Ag Day festivities. 

    Beginning this Spring, FVC will select qualified veterans who are pursuing a future in farming to receive donated Kubota equipment and other support for their respective farming operations. Farmer veterans who are FVC fellowship members can apply for the "Geared to Give" program and be considered for the donated equipment. Kubota has selected its versatile and efficient Standard L-Series compact tractors, which are proudly built in the U.S., to meet the varying needs of many small- and medium-sized farming operations.

    "Kubota and the Farmer Veteran Coalition share a belief in the future of farming and the future of America's veterans," said Todd Stucke, Kubota vice president of sales, marketing, and product support. "Our philanthropic mission is to 'power and empower those who move the earth.' We do this by providing equipment and funding to organizations that help people who work with the earth in ways that help our communities thrive - that is why we're proud to support FVC and their farmer veteran members:  they need support to make their dreams of a career in farming a reality, and Kubota is honored to answer their call."

    Based in Davis, Calif., FVC is cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and developing viable employment opportunities and meaningful careers for the veterans through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. FVC believes that food production offers purpose and opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits for all veterans. FVC works with veterans from all military branches, their families, employers, and mentors to support those returning to or beginning careers in food and farming.

    "We mobilize veterans to feed America through funding, equipment, counseling and resources to help guide the passion of our veterans so that they may earn for themselves a meaningful, finacially sustainable place in the agricultural community," said Michael O'Gorman, executive director of FVC. "We are deeply committed to leveraging our work through a network of partnerships with companies like Kubota, which allows us to more effectively connect the right resources to the veterans who most need support, particularly those in the onset of their civilian careers."

    For more information about the "Geared to Give" program, visit www.KubotaCares.com. To learn more about FVC, visit www.farmvetco.org.

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  • Mar 20th, 2015
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    Our own Michele Pfannenstiel, President FVC Maine, made a visit to Dick Royer's Farm last week. While there she was able to snap a few pictures of him and his wife.  Earlier in the month we were able to connect him with with Chet Bennetts, Director of Farm Development, to assist in business planning for his farm.


    "I just received the one page business plan from Chet. He told me he was sending it to me what I thought was a form or a sheet of paper to fill out turns out to be a 90+ page workbook and a cd! Wow I am so glad to have found you guys! I finally think I maybe on the right path to getting my farm on a good footing. Thank you so so much for your help..." 

    - Dick Royer


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  • Mar 18th, 2014
  • object(WP_Post)#440 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(2320) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2014-03-02 08:13:45" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2014-03-02 14:13:45" ["post_content"]=> string(34748) " The Farmer Veteran Coalition cordially invites all women veterans, active duty, and women farming with veterans to participate in the Empowering Women Veterans Conference. This event will focus on equipping women veterans with the business and farming tools they need to begin and achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Over 100 women will be brought together from around the country to make new friends and form community. Register today! Join us for this unique opportunity by registering here: Conference Registration" ["post_title"]=> string(80) "You are Invited to the Southern California Empowering Women Veterans Conference!" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(70) "you-are-invited-to-the-2nd-annual-empowering-women-veterans-conference" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2014-05-02 22:38:50" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2014-05-03 03:38:50" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(32) "http://www.farmvetco.org/?p=2320" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "5" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } NULL
  • Mar 2nd, 2014