Farming: A Viable Post-Military Career for Nebraska Veterans

By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - Nebraska

Nebraska's rural lands offer abundant opportunities for farming and ranching, and also are home to nearly half of the state's 133,000 military veterans. 

This combination makes agriculture a great fit for young men and women returning home from service. Veterans interested in farming and ranching can learn more at the second-annual Answering the Call conference in Hastings. 

Jordan Rasmussen, policy program associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, said it's an opportunity to connect with others who have converted their military skills into a career in the field.

"That sense of service that occurs as a member of the military is something that translates into how you approach your work as a farmer,” Rasmussen said. “Farming can be seen as a solitary vocation. That's not really the case. Instead, there is a comradeship that's similar to military service that exists in agriculture."

The March 24 conference is sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs and Legal Aid of Nebraska. It's a free event, but pre-registration is required by March 16.

Rasmussen said veterans will be able to learn more about programs and resources that can help them get a start in agriculture. And they'll cover other topics for those already in the business including conservation and diversification. 

"Whether that be agri-tourism or, in addition to your row crop, growing more of a cash crop like pumpkins or something of that nature,” she said. “And so helping them to find identified different avenues for resource development is part of what we're trying to accomplish here."

She added that farmers looking to transition their ownership to veteran farmers or who are willing to mentor are also encouraged to attend. It's estimated that about half of current farmland will have new ownership in the next 25 years. And Rasmussen said they are hoping to help bridge that gap by connecting experienced farmers with those just getting started.