In a vote of unanimous and bipartisan support, the California State Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs passed AB 2574 last week. This new CSGsponsored legislation will create
opportunities for California veterans to take-up occupations in
farming and ranching. Assemblyman, Rocky Chavez (R), a retired
Marine veteran and Colonel worked with theCSG to author the bill.
The measure moves forward to the Assembly Appropriations
Committee this week.
The bill is a landmark measure offering new incentives to California’s nearly two million veterans to become farmers and ranchers by leveraging existing state programs and resources to draw increased federal dollars and resources into California.
The 2014 United States Farm Bill included military veterans as a distinct
classification of farmers for the first time in the history of farm bills. Congress included a variety of landmark incentives to help America’s veterans returning from military service to acquire skills to start and manage a farms and ranches.
These incentives arose from recent findings by the United States Department of Agriculture that the average age of farmers across the nation is on the rise. The average age of principal farm operators is at 58.3 years, and 33% are over the age of 65.
CSG President Bob McFarland said, “Through these state and federally funded programs and resources, we will help returning veterans adapt from battlefields to farm fields.
“There is a healing benefit for soldiers working with theland. The CSG will continue to support and encourage new generations of farmers. Our future will depend on regenerative agricultural and access to an abundance of healthy foods,” McFarland added.
Assemblyman Chavez, notes, “Supporting our veterans’ ability to draw down federal money and transition into a field of such demand will create security and stability for our state’s agricultural industry and for our veterans shifting to civilian life.”
Lt. Bobby Ross, a retired veteran who served during the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam and has farmed since 2004, stated at last week’s hearing, “I do believe that farming and ranching requires so much commitment, physically and mentally, that a wounded veteran can truly benefit from it.”
In January at USDA offices in Davis, the CSG led the first-meeting of a new coalition of state organizations supporting military veterans entering farming careers. The coalition includes representatives from the USDA, Farmer Veteran Coalition, UC Davis’ CalAgrability, Cal Poly’s Veteran Sustainable Agriculture Training, California Employment Development Department, Women Veterans Alliance, National Center for Appropriate Technology and California Department of Veteran Affairs.
AB 2574 will create and strengthen incentives to help veterans returning from military service to become farmers and ranchers. These incentives include education and training, technical assistance, farm loans, and microloans to support such needs as farm equipment or other essentials.
Last year, the CSG sponsored a tour of the award-winning film Ground Operations with filmmaker Dulanie Ellis, screening the film at five granges up and down the State and at the EcoFarm Conference at Asilomar. The documentary film provides numerous examples of former combat veterans successfully becoming farmers and ranchers. Copies of the film are available through the CSG.
The Redwood Valley Grange will screen Ground Operations on Friday, April 22 at 6:30pm as part of their Earth Weekend celebration. For more information, contact Bill or Jaye at (707) 272-1688.
For more information on AB 2574, phone the CSG offices at (916) 454-5805.
The CSG is not affiliated with the National Grange or the
Grange of California’s Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Chartered.