Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss efforts to transition military veterans into the agricultural workforce. Bost, a member of both the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Agriculture, was accompanied by a bipartisan group for the Capitol Hill meeting.
“There’s no more dedicated workforce in the entire world than our returning military men and women,” said Bost. “We’ve got a huge shortfall in the agricultural workforce, and we have veterans leaving military service looking for employment. I discussed with Secretary Perdue ways to kill two birds with one stone, offering our heroes a new career path while helping farmers and ranchers fill jobs and expand their operations. I think we’re on the same page here and I look forward to turning these discussions into further legislative action.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 45 percent of veterans come from rural America. Over the next 20 years, it is projected that our nation will need 700,000 new agricultural workers.
Last year, Rep. Bost introduced H.R. 4339, the Veterans’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Act, which instructs the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to work with state departments of agriculture to identify farmers and ranchers eligible for a direct loan to train apprentice veterans in their industry. Veterans would receive direct, on-the-job training and, in return, farmers and ranchers would get help with their operations with little cost to them. The loan would be paid back to the USDA after the harvest season.