“There are many roads toward a career in farming. Providing military veterans an opportunity to use their GI Bill benefits to become farmers is a great way to support our vets returning to New York,” said Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program.
Farm Ops educates veterans about agricultural careers and coaches them. “This program allows returning veterans the opportunity to learn how to become farmers through their GI Bill benefits – opening the way for young, hardworking men and women to become tomorrow’s agricultural producers,” she said.
More than a million veterans will be honorably discharged over the next several years, while a trained-labor shortage exists for farms throughout New York. As part of the job-training program, veterans can receive their GI Bill benefits during a six-month to two-year farm training program.
Kreher’s farm is a leading egg operation in New York, supplying private label and Eggland’s Best brand eggs to Wegmans, Tops and other grocers. The farm uses more than 3,000 acres of organic cropland to produce feed onsite for its hens – making it the largest organic grain producer in the state.
“Veterans have sacrificed a lot for our country and our freedom,” said Mike Kreher ’00. “On their return, they have a lot to offer communities and prospective employers. There are many skills veterans develop in the military that are valuable in the workplace. It is important that we, as employers, do what we can to support our returning service men and women so that they come home to jobs and opportunity.”
New York state, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program) provided funding for the program.
Farms or agricultural businesses interested in obtaining New York Division of Veteran’s Affairs approval can email Cornell education support specialist Dean Koyanagi at firstname.lastname@example.org.