New York agriculture faces a looming employment crisis, but not the kind that normally leaves job seekers skittish.
A rise in job capacity in the agriculture industry is not being met with enough skilled people ready to fill the expected surge in high-paying, productive careers. An innovative Cornell project is betting that military veterans are the answer.
Farm Ops, an initiative from the Cornell Small Farm Program, is the first of its kind in the country to give returning veterans the opportunity to learn agriculture via their G.I. Bill benefits. The program allows earned military benefits to be deployed in agriculture training, opening the way for young, hardworking men and women with the skills to be successful in a technologically advanced field to become the farmers of tomorrow.
“After leaving the military, our veterans enter the workforce with the dedication, grit and work ethic to succeed in whatever they wish to do,” said Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farm Program and senior extension associate in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “Until now, the job-training benefits they earned have not been applied to agriculture. Our program offers pathways, information and support to enter the agricultural workforce.
“It’s a win for our veterans and a win for the New York agricultural industry that desperately needs these talented people,” she said.