Historic Recognition for Veterans in 2014 Farm Bill

Historic Recognition for Veterans in 2014 Farm Bill

Prepared by Ed Cox, Agricultural Law Center, Drake Law, for the Farmer Veteran Coalition
Updated July 28, 2015

The 2014 Farm Bill created several new USDA program priorities for farmer veterans. This blogpost summarizes these new priorities. Veterans and supporters interested in finding out more about these programs can contact our Government Resources Advisor at brian@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:

  1. has not operated a farm or ranch; or
  2. 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:


Land Transition IncentiveS

The CRP Transition Incentive Program gives owners of land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program additional CRP payments if they lease or sell the land to a Veteran Farmer.





Conservation Programs.  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 requires a preference be given to veteran farmers and ranchers that fall within at least one of the set-aside categories.  Veteran Farmers now receive additional points when applying for such programs.  These points are in addition to any points granted for being a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.

Value-Added Producer Grants.  This program is one of the few instances in which farmers may directly receive grants for their private 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.  It’s important to note that you do not receive additional points for multiple categories.  For instance, you do not receive double the points for being a beginning farmer or rancher and a veteran farmer or rancher.

MICROLoan Assistance

Microloans are available through the USDA Farm Service Agency and have a simpler application process and less stringent requirements regarding farm management experience than traditional FSA loans.

The 2014 Farm Bill specifically excludes Micro-loans that are used by veterans from the term limits applied to other USDA Direct Operating Loans.

The legislation also limits the interest rate that may be charged to farmer veterans using Micro-Loans. Veteran Farmers may choose the Microloan Interest rate, which is set at 5%, or the regular interest rate for USDA Operating Loans.  Currently, regular interest rates are below 5%, making them the better choice.  As interest rates rise, the 5% Microloan rate may become more appealing.  Essentially, Veteran Farmers will not pay more than 5% on Microloans.

Outreach and Assistance for Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant.  The BFRDP, administered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), provides grants to organizations providing training, education, outreach, and technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. Under the 2014 Farm Bill assistance for veteran farmers is made a priority under the BFRDP by specifically including “agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training” as an eligible service and providing a 5% set aside of BFRDP funding for programs serving veterans.

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 veteran characteristics and implementation of new veteran 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.

29 thoughts on “Historic Recognition for Veterans in 2014 Farm Bill

  1. 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!

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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”.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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”

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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

  18. 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????

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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!!!

  22. 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

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