USDA, Extension teach veterans farming, ranching skills

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Program aims to get veterans into farming

State and federal agricultural agencies have created resources, tools for any veteran who wants to become a farmer or a rancher.

Area veterans can gather useful information from their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Agency or University of Missouri Extension.

The Missouri AgrAbility Project has also set aside resources to work with veterans who have any disease, disability or disorder, said Karen Funkenbusch, the project director and an MU Extension health and safety specialist.

Missouri is one of 24 states that has an AgrAbility Project, which is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the federal level under the USDA. The U.S. Congress authorized the project in the 1990 Farm Bill to assist all farmers and ranchers who have any disease, disability or disorder.

Veterans can attend free agricultural workshops across Missouri. The next one, which aims to provide the veterans resources in how to be a farmer or a rancher, is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hampton Inn (103 St. Robert Blvd.) in St. Robert.

Resource providers at the session include the USDA Farm Service Agency, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the MU Extension, the Missouri AgrAbility Project, the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop, the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, the Center for Rural Affairs and the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership.

"So, if you are a veteran, and you want to start a farming [or a ranching] operation, we are going to provide you with the who, what, where, why, how," Funkenbusch said.

The other meeting dates are not set, she said.

"Some of these meetings will actually take place on a farm," she said. "We will take the veterans out to a veteran farm where this veteran has recently returned from war or even an older farmer and how they have successfully started up a farming operation."

Saturday's participants also get a free lunch, said Ron Selfors, a member of Sustainable Ozarks Partnership.

"We also support Fort Leonard Wood and try to make Fort Leonard Wood as competitive as possible compared to other installations around the country," he said.

For more information about the workshop, contact Selfors at ronselfors@gmail.com or 573-855-8312 or visit sustainableozarks.org. If any veteran would like more information about how to become a farmer or a rancher, they can visit cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project.

Veterans who have a disease, a disability or a disorder and who want to become a farmer or a rancher can contact the Missouri AgrAbility Project at 800-995-8503, visit agrability.missouri.edu or contact Funkenbusch at FunkenbuschK@missouri.edu.

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