U.S. Reps. Lawson and Bost Focus on Veterans’ Hiring in Agriculture
WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Representatives Al Lawson (D-FL) and Mike Bost (R-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation to make more United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) apprenticeships available to veterans. The Veterans’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Act instructs the USDA to work with state departments of agriculture to identify farmers and ranchers eligible for a direct loan to train apprentice veterans. The loan would, in turn, be paid back to the USDA after the harvest season.
“The ‘Vets to Ag’ bill helps to prioritize on-the-job training for our nation’s veterans in the agricultural field once they leave active duty,” Rep. Lawson said. “Agriculture is a more than $120 billion industry in Florida and one of the strongest pillars of our state’s economy supporting more than 2 million jobs. My district also consists of the highest veteran population in the state. This initiative will provide our military personnel with hands-on experience, access to quality jobs and the opportunity to help feed America.”
The average age for a farmer is now 58 and has been on the rise for 30 years, according to USDA data. This trend could be changed by encouraging veterans to enter the agriculture industry as nearly 45 percent of veterans come from rural America.
“Despite dysfunction in Washington, I’m still fighting for bipartisan, common-sense solutions to help our farmers and our veterans,” Rep. Bost said. “Our bill helps our farmers and ranchers fill jobs and expand their operations while offering our veterans new skills and a potential career path after their service. For the past two years, Representative Lawson and I have sat right next to each other in the House Agriculture Committee. We both have rural economies in our districts and we both know there’s no more dedicated workforce than our returning military men and women. I’m proud to carry this bill to give a hand up to our returning heroes.”
Rep. Lawson was recently re-appointed to the House Agriculture Committee where some of his priorities include working on urban agriculture, rural development and food desert in the 5th Congressional District.