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New on-the-job agricultural training for New York veterans

Staff Writer |
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 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’ On-the-Job Training initiative to allow veterans to use their military benefits while obtaining useful job skills on the farm.

With assistance from Cornell Small Farms Program, Western New York’s Kreher’s Farm in Clarence, has been approved as the first farm in the state to offer this program to veterans. Additional farms across the state are encouraged to apply to participate in the program.

The New York State Beginning Farmers Workgroup, established by Governor 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.

Prior to 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.

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.

The training period will last from six months to two years and farms should be in a position to hire the veteran full-time at the end of their training.

Staff with Cornell Small Farms will assist farmers in applying for the program. Once an application is approved, Cornell Small Farms will also help match those farms with interested veterans.