MSU trains veterans for ag careers

A model training program for veterans with barriers to employment is creating a new labor supply for agriculture.

Tom Smith with Michigan State University’s Vets to Ag program says the efforts started seven years ago after a call by the state to train homeless veterans to work in agriculture. Now he says 34 other states are looking to create similar programs that train veterans for the agricultural workforce.  “One of the things that we’re trying to do as a next step is to establish a more formal network with land grant institutions, and any other training programs that are related to agriculture around the country.”

Smith says agriculture provides veterans with more than employment.  “It’s a healing process, so we work a lot of veterans that are having a difficult time transitioning from their service in the military to civilian life.”

He says participants are recruited through Veteran Affairs Services, screened and then take part in the multi-week trainings. Smith says past programs have provided skills to work as pesticide applicators, meat processors, parks and recreation staff, and in food production to distribution.

AUDIO: Interview with Tom Smith

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