The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation are teaming up to help veterans find jobs in the agriculture industry.
Lanon Baccam, USDA farm and foreign agricultural services deputy undersecretary, and Eric Eversole, vice president at the Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes, signed the memorandum of understanding Friday.
Baccam, an Army veteran and the USDA's military liaison, said the department will be able to connect with the thousands of service members and veterans that Hiring Our Heroes reaches out to via workshops and events.
"We can tell [transitioning service members] that rural America has a place for them," he said. "The USDA has tools and resources that we can use to help get them into farming or ranching."
Eversole, a commander in the Navy Reserve, said service members might be unaware of the opportunities in the agriculture sector.
"It's not about riding a John Deere tractor," he said.
Baccam said there are opportunities departmentwide, including working with housing, technical assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Women, Infants, and Children. More than 11,000 veterans work for the USDA.
Eversole said working in agriculture has an appeal to veterans because it's a way to serve their country in a slightly different way.
"When our young men and women raise their hand to serve, they're doing so for a greater mission and a greater purpose and a greater good," he said. "The greater good … also exists in agriculture: You're feeding the world's people."