Our nation must continue to work for the brave men and women who have risked their lives for our freedom. I am proud to fight for legislation to create a new pilot program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will help establish veterans gardens programs throughout the United States. The Veterans Gardens Employment and Opportunity Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to award grants for the establishment of gardens that are operated exclusively by veterans, and designed to produce food that can be sold to individuals, schools, and restaurants through farmers markets and farm-to-school programs.
Right now, the rate of unemployment among American veterans is higher than the national average. Our brave men and women who have served in uniform deserve better when they return home. This responsible bill authorizes a new pilot program funded by the USDA, which I believe can help to create new job opportunities for our veterans and at the same time increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in many of our underserved communities.
Programs that train veterans with farming and gardening skills have proven effective at enabling our returning troops to become successful, sustainable farmers. This legislation is an important first step in our efforts to ensure all our veterans find meaningful and dignified employment here at home. And by generating new sources of fruit and vegetable growth, the Veterans Gardens Employment and Opportunity Act creates a win-win situation that also improves access to nutritious foods and helps to combat the obesity crisis in America.
JOE BACA, Congressman
43rd Congressional District