Photo via Ground Operations
America, like many other countries, is facing a farming crisis.
According to EPA demographics, more than 60 percent of American farmers are over the age of 55, and many will be retiring in the next 10 years. That means that potentially half of our fertile farmland could be left untended, or consolidated into the hands of Big Agri-Business.
“As the average age of farmers continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release this month.
The 2014 Farm Bill includes $100 million dollars in funds set aside for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. That is $19 million dollars per year for the next five years, to be spent on training and educating the next generation of American food producers.
And for the first time, a percentage of that funding is allocated specifically for military veterans.
That is due in part to the work of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), men and women of the armed forces who have banded together around their common concern for the future of our country’s food supply. Their goal is to train America’s soldiers to have successful careers in sustainable farming and ranching.
Since September 11, 2001 more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in action and more than 200,000 have been diagnosed with PTSD. According to some estimates, the suicide rate for young veterans has risen as high as 22 per day. Too many of our nation’s finest are coming home disabled, depressed and struggling to find employment and rebuild their lives.
The FVC is working to provide them with a new mission: rebuilding America’s agricultural infrastructure. Through retreats, workshops, mentoring programs and community support, they are giving individuals new skills and new hope – while ensuring that the future of our nation’s farmland is in good hands.
Soldiers are uniquely qualified to endure the rigors of life on the farm. The discipline and focus and commitment to service that they gain in their military training are exactly the qualities that make for success in agriculture. And no one better understands the importance of a healthy food supply to our national security and sovereignty.
The documentary Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, produced by Dulanie Ellis and Raymond Singer, follows the journey of several combat veterans as they make the shift from fighting overseas to growing here at home. The goal of the project is to grow the awareness of the state of America’s food supply, and raise support for the farmers and soldiers who are working to do something about it.
In this moving film you will learn more about the FVC and world of agriculture. You will watch as real people overcome the trauma of war, find a positive way to move forward and prove themselves to be heroes in more ways than one. You will watch them heal and grow as they undergo the “deep, spiritual transformation” that comes from working with the land, providing clean and healthy food to their communities, and giving the gift of life.