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MSU Extension partners to promote FARM Corps initiative linking servicemen, veterans with ag jobs
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University Extension is helping U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Tupelo) and other partners in launching a new FARM Corps program to connect furloughed or unemployed veterans and members of the National Guard, Reserve and all service branches with local farm and ranch jobs.
While the COVID-19 crisis has caused economic hardships for many Mississippians and others around the U.S., agriculture producers also are lacking foreign labor typically made possible through the H-2A visa program, now subject to strict travel restrictions. Harvesting, planting, and other workers are needed in the agricultural sector, while the industry works to ensure a stable food supply.
Rep. Kelly spearheaded the Farm and Ranch Mission (FARM) Corps initiative that partners with Mississippi Farm Bureau, Mississippi National Guard and Reserves, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi Veterans Affairs, and other agricultural and veterans organizations. MSU Extension is playing a key role in providing organizational support, identification of opportunities and serving as a clearinghouse for open positions, locations, and point of contact for each position.
“MSU Extension is delighted to support Farm Corps with the most advanced technology available to digitally interconnect Mississippi agriculture producers who produce our food with veterans who need employment,” said MSU Extension Director Gary Jackson. “Farm Corps is a great example of how MSU Extension is using technology to foster collaborative relationships that provide opportunities for individuals, families, businesses, and communities.”
FARM Corps aims to pair “available labor/individuals laid off or furloughed with various ag-producers across the state of Mississippi in the hopes of facilitating a mutually beneficial arrangement,” according to a program outline. Producers may create an account on the FARM Corps webpage at http://msuext.ms/farmcorps. Farmers and ranchers manage their own job openings by adding additional opportunities or removing listings that have been filled. Job seekers can find job opportunities by visiting the same website. MSU Extension also is supporting the program’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MississippiFARMCorps.
Randy Loper, head of MSU’s Extension Center for Technology Outreach, said after launching the new program’s website in recent days, 15 job listings from 10 different farm operations already have been posted.
“Mississippi’s agriculture producers play a vital role in growing food and fiber to help feed and clothe the world, but they must have farm labor. With the recent pandemic, it is difficult to acquire the skilled, seasonal labor needed. At the same time, we have veterans and National Guard soldiers facing unemployment. From their military backgrounds, many of these soldiers have the experience, skills, and self-discipline to fill these positions. Matching the two groups together is a win-win situation for our state and nation,” Loper said. He called the project “a wonderful opportunity for me and for my MSU Extension colleagues.”
For more information, visit the websites listed above or contact Loper at 662-325-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.