July 9, 2019 In The News

Daily Freeman: Rep. Delgado touts benefits of pairing military veterans with farmers

KINGSTON, N.Y. — U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado says he is interested in finding more ways to team military veterans with farmers who are looking for extra help.

“It’s a pretty nice match when you can pair a veteran with a farmer,” Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, said in a phone call with reporters Monday.

Delgado, who represents New York’s 19th Congressional District, spoke about a visit he made last week to Sheffer’s Grassland Dairy Farm in Hoosick Falls, where he met with members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and representatives of Cornell University’s Small Farms Program.

The congressman said the Small Farms Program works to pair veterans with farmers and that he is interested in finding ways to expand it. The idea is to provide veterans who come home from serving with as many work opportunities as possible, Delgado said. He said, though, that the program has not been formalized or institutionalized yet.

Delgado, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said a veteram who works at Sheffer’s suffered injuries in combat and found farm work was good for him, allowing him to work in a place that gave him some mindfulness and allowed him to use his discipline.

Delgado said he talked during his visit to the farm about how the Small Farms Program could help veterans who come home and also farmers who need workers. He said farmers have told him it is hard to find people with the discipline and work ethic needed to do the job day in and day out. Veterans have those qualities, the congressman said.

Part of the discussion focused on programs that help veterans gain the skills needed to transition to jobs in agriculture, including on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs, and ways to expand those opportunities, according to a July 3 statement from Delgado’s office.

“This intersection of helping veterans pursue job-training skills and new employment opportunities in the farming sector creates excellent opportunities for veterans in our farming communities,” Delgado said in the statement. “I really appreciated learning more about the existing programs and hearing how they could be expanded to reach more of our veterans. I look forward to taking what I learned today back with me to Washington to continue working to help our small farms and local veterans.”

The Cornell Small Farms Program helps farmers gain expert assistance to facilitate all phases of small farm business development and specifically works with veterans to connect them with small farms, Delgado’s office said.

It said a component of the program is “Veterans in Agriculture,” which works with aspiring farmer veterans.