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Bill Offers Help to Get Wisconsin’s Returning Vets into Agriculture

The authors of a new bill, Wisconsin legislators from both parties, say their goal is to pave the way for returning veterans to succeed. (leekins/Getty Images)
The authors of a new bill, Wisconsin legislators from both parties, say their goal is to pave the way for returning veterans to succeed. (leekins/Getty Images)
May 3, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – A brand new piece of legislation, known as the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017, has just been introduced, seeking to help returning veterans interested in production agriculture get a start.

The authors of the bill include two Democrats and two Republicans, who say everyone wants returning veterans to succeed. State Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, said there are big obstacles to overcome in getting started in agriculture, and the bill would help veterans leap some of the hurdles.

"To help them find ways of getting loans – just getting a good foothold, getting the education that may be necessary," she said. "There are so many different agricultural areas. Wisconsin is huge on agriculture, and we really need to assist those who are interested, and get them the help they need to get into the field."

Many of Wisconsin's returning veterans come home with scars – some visible, others not. Ringhand said the kind of work farmers do every day can have a beneficial effect.

"A lot of our veterans returning home are dealing with some issues, with PTSD," she noted. "It's been a proven fact that getting out and working physically is very supportive of your mental health and makes you feel better; you recover quicker. And working with animals also can be very therapeutic."

According to Ringhand, the bill also would work to establish branding for goods produced by Wisconsin veterans, to help consumers make choices. She explained the bill would draw together support and input from many branches of state government and private enterprise.

"Department of Agriculture, the Veterans Affairs, Military Affairs, corn growers, Veterans of Foreign Wars, many others that all feel this is a very strong bill that will help our veterans and our agricultural process in the state of Wisconsin," she said.

In addition to building the state's agricultural workforce, Ringhand pointed out that the bill also would help veterans re-acclimate to civilian life. It is based on similar legislation passed in West Virginia, which has already helped 300 veterans establish themselves in farming.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI