Empowering Veterans to Thrive in Agriculture

Senator ernst2016-08-22_12.07.22

Monday at the 2016 ISU Veterans in Agriculture and Entrepreneurship Conference, Senator Joni Ernst was the keynote speaker… Senator Ernst talked about the Food Insecurity and the fact that we are 9 meals away from riots. In the next 15 years we will need 1 million more farmers and at the same time more than 800,000 military personnel will be transitioning from service.

Following Senator Ernst’s keynote address, the conference held a panel discussion with policy leaders. Along with Senator Ernst, the panel consisted of: Adj. General Tim Orr, from the Iowa National Guard; Alexis Taylor, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; and Barbara Carson, Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office Veterans Business Development. The panel first discussed programs available for veterans. Comments includes that more than 40% of veterans come from rural America and that in 2014 there were +400,000 veterans living in rural America. Iowa has about 280,000 veterans with a population of 3.2 million people. 1 in 10 entrepreneurs are veterans… Veterans are 45% more likely to start a business and keep the business that other entrepreneurs. Since 2007 women veteran ownership in businesses has increased over 300%. Food Security is National Security! July 21st the president signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016. The new law allocates over $7 billion to initiatives that focus on agriculture, small-scale food producers and the nutrition of women and children worldwide.

After the panels opening remarks, they took questions from the audience. Questions dealt with topics of: Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Agriculture; tax credits for hiring veterans; how to help service member on deployment with their farming operations; loan programs for helping family members and employers while on active deployment; Iowa’s “Joining Community Forces” program for mental health issues for veterans; and the “SkillBridge” program from the Department of Defense for Title 10 military personnel only on active bases, needs to be expanded to include all types of military installations.

Following the panel discussion the mid-afternoon breakout session concentrated on identifying public policies and veteran program strengths and weaknesses. The workshop was structured to create issue awareness, promote dialogue, explore new ideas, identify synergies, and create next step action items.

Veterans in Agriculture visited with Senator Ernst about helping us find a potential board prospect from SW Iowa and the possibility of her Roast and Ride event, choosing Veterans in Agriculture, a 501(c)(3), non-profit, Iowa Corporation, as the charity to receive the contributions from the Roast & Ride in 2017, instead of an out-of-state veterans group.

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