CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Senate on Monday passed a bill to educate and support veterans in the field of agriculture.
The Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program would create a fund for the Department of Agriculture to help vets find employment after returning from combat as well as strengthen the state's agricultural economic future.
Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick said the creation of the program is already underway. Last summer the department hired James McCormick as project director, he said.
"Obviously, we fully support this legislation," Helmick said. "Some very positive steps have been taken, and progress has been made to get veterans involved in agriculture in West Virginia. We want to see entrepreneurs come out of this program and the veterans have the spirit, the structure and the ability to work together with us to move forward and establish successful agribusiness operations."
The fund could support veterans working or hoping to work in beekeeping, cottage industries, niche crops, aquaculture and developing post-mine land for agriculture.
The bill mandates the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Veterans Assistance and the state's adjutant general work together to train and recruit eligible veterans.
The legislation also creates a special revenue account. Funding will come from the department's farm account, private and charitable donations, and legislative appropriation.
The bill will now go to the House.