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Cuomo announces new on-the-job agricultural training program for veterans

By Journal Staff

Date:

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Veterans Day announced the launch of an on-the-job training program for military veterans interested in careers in the agricultural industry.

This training opportunity expands the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs’ (DVA) On-the-Job Training initiative to allow veterans to use their military benefits while obtaining “useful job skills on the farm,” the governor’s office said in a news release.

With assistance from the Cornell Small Farms Program (smallfarms.cornell.edu), Kreher’s Farm in Clarence in Western New York, has been approved as the first farm in the state to offer this program to veterans. Kreher’s Farm is a “leading” egg operation and the largest organic grain producer in the state, according to the governor’s office.

The state is encouraging additional farms across the state to apply to participate in the program.

“This program will open new doors and not only offer on-the-farm training for veterans, it will support increased agricultural production to provide local food to communities across the state. I congratulate Kreher’s Farm for participating in the program and encourage other farms across the state to join,” Cuomo said.

The New York State Beginning Farmers Workgroup, established by Cuomo in 2014, identified the need for an on-the-job training program for veterans who want to pursue careers in farming and agriculture. The workgroup’s discussions lead the Farm Ops initiative of the Cornell Small Farms program to work with the DVA to expand its existing On-the-Job Training (OJT) program to include New York farms. Before this, OJT was utilized almost exclusively by electricians, plumbers, and other skilled trades. The program offers veterans “rewarding career opportunities as they transition out of military service, while also providing employers with qualified workers,” the release stated. During their training, veterans are paid wages and also receive their military housing allowance through their GI Bill benefits, which helps offset the cost of living.

Interested farms must submit an application and training outline to the DVA. The outline should include skills that will be learned and duties the veteran will complete during training, according to the release. The training period will be between six months and two years, and farms should be in a position to hire the veteran full time at the end of their training. Staff with the Cornell Small Farms program will help farmers in applying for the program. Once an application is approved, Cornell Small Farms will also help match those farms with interested veterans.

Those interested in learning more about the program and how to participate can visit: www.nebeginningfarmers.org/projects/farmer-veterans/on-the-job-training. Farmers who are interested in offering on-the-job training are encouraged to contact Cornell education-support specialist Dean Koyanagi at drk5@cornell.edu or (607) 255-9911.

Funding for this program is provided by the New York State Legislature through the work of State Senator Pattie Ritchie, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Farm Viability Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

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