APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Currently, FVC has a Board of Advisors that comes largely from the organic and sustainable farming wing of agriculture; it is also predominantly West Coast-based. As part of its plan to launch itself as a stand-alone non-profit by January 1, 2012, FVC aims to have a new board in place by Veterans Day 2011 that will include leadership from the nation's largest farming organizations. FVC will also seek support for its Agriculture Industry Employment Initiative for Veterans from the California Board of Food and Agriculture, the Western Growers Association and other West Coast trade associations by Veterans Day. FVC's goals for 2012 will be to increase its database of beginning and aspiring farmer-veterans to 1,000; to have at least 500 veterans attend FVC sponsored or partnered events; to assist at least 300 veterans with mentoring for their farms or food businesses; to help at least 100 veterans access credit for their farms; and to place 100 veterans into farm or food industry employment. Fifty of these jobs will come through three Food and Farming Veteran Career Fairs that FVC will organize for Fresno, Salinas and Santa Rosa, in the first quarter of 2012, which farm companies will attend to meet interested veterans. FCV will partner with industry trade associations and local community colleges and four year college agriculture programs in these regions. FCV will particularly focus on targeting middle-management and skilled labor positions that pay well and provide year-round employment. FCV's national office will fill the other 50 jobs across the nation through the matching of job offers with qualified veterans.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
FVC is in discussions with representatives from the nation's leading farming organizations, with the goal to have a commitment in place by October 1. By October 31, they will add state-wide partners to the effort in at least 15 states. By Veterans Day, 2011, FVC will be prepared to publicly announce their finalized partnerships. They will also be approaching both potential partners and funders to start a jobs initiative targeting the beginning of the 2012 season in California and Arizona. By October 1, they will identify key partners for their jobs initiative and by October 31 they aim to have raised the money necessary to implement this initiative.
Agriculture is an industry with dire need for young people and incredible opportunity for both well-paying jobs and successful self-employment. At this moment in time, much of our country's larger agricultural employers rely primarily on immigrant labor, though in each of their companies there are a number of well-paying year round jobs with excellent opportunity for advancement and self-fulfillment. The challenge is to let these employers know that our military veterans bring the skills they received in the military- leadership, logistics, decision making, technology and discipline - and in many cases are bi-lingual. Likewise, most veterans are unaware of the opportunities in this field. For self-employment opportunities in the agricultural field: adequate mentoring, education and access to credit and land are the biggest obstacles facing beginning farmer-veterans.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition, with limited funding, has identified a need - to help veterans returning to rural communities find viable careers in Agriculture - and has successfully made great strides in finding solutions to this problem. Its efforts still lack critical funding and it is looking for corporate and foundation support for these efforts.