This Sunday, America will pause to say “thank you” to its service members. The words seem small, but the sincerity we give them on this occasion is big enough to cover an entire nation – including the more than six million veterans who live in rural America.
The notion of “giving something back” is inherent in the nature of farming, so it is perhaps not just appreciation but also a certain sense of kinship that strengthens the handshake a farmer extends to a soldier or a veteran. Many in the agricultural community are both farmers and veterans, and that bond has remained strong throughout our history.
Considering that our country will need perhaps 100,000 new farmers in the next several years to keep pace with the global demand for food, I encourage returning veterans to consider agriculture as a natural continuation of your contributions to this great nation. Our industry needs and welcomes you. The task isn’t easy, but the rewards are great – and we already know you do not mind hard work. For those who are interested, the USDA Veterans Employment Program office is a good place to start.
Please accept the thanks of the California agricultural community for your service. And let our gratitude be just the beginning, not the end, of our commitment to you as you return from service.