Spring 2020 Battleground to Breaking Ground cohort now taking applications

Applications are now being taken for the Battleground to Breaking Ground Spring 2020 Cohort 7 program. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service photo)

Applications are open from now until Dec. 6 for the Spring 2020 Cohort 7 of the Battleground to Breaking Ground Program, coordinators said.

Battleground to Breaking Ground is part of the Texas AgrAbility program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. It is focused on veteran and active-duty military members interested in starting or expanding an agricultural business, but other beginner farmers and ranchers may participate.

An applicant webinar to outline the requirements and expectations of the Battleground to Breaking Ground program will be held from 11 a.m.-noon on Nov. 13. Participants must register to participate.

“This program is now available to attendees in two ways,” said Erin Kimbrough, AgriLife Extension program manager, College Station. “They can participate through the Farmer Education and Training, or FEAT, project or through the now fee-based Battleground to Breaking Ground program.”

Kimbrough said FEAT has partnered with the Battleground to Breaking Ground program to provide tuition for 15 active-duty and veteran military service members per training “cohort” through a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant.

“This is a three-year grant in collaboration with the Compatible Lands Foundation,” she said.  “It is only available for veteran and active-duty military, and the 15 spots per cohort will be determined by a competitive application process.”

Kimbrough said FEAT attendees must participate in-person and successfully complete basic training.

“The goal of basic training is to bring participants together for team building, networking and program introduction, as well as for education and a better understanding of the resources available to those interested in an agricultural enterprise,” she said.

She said FEAT participants must also have 64 hours of hands-on training in the third phase of the program. Hands-on training will be conducted at the Farmers Education and Training Center, located in Gatesville near Fort Hood, or at Mesquite Field Farm in Nixon.

“An additional 32 hours of hands-on training can be conducted with an approved program mentor,” she said.

Kimbrough said another way to participate is through Battleground to Breaking Ground training.

“Our Battleground to Breaking Ground program is now fee-based,” she said. “It provides attendees all three phases of that program as well as additional services from program partners and some added flexibility to meet program requirements.”

She said this program is focused on active duty and veteran military, but anyone interested in starting an agricultural business can attend.

“For this program, there is a simplified application process and attending the basic training and graduation are optional,” Kimbrough said. “There are 30 cohort spots available through this program.”

Kimbrough said a primary goal of the Battleground to Breaking Ground program is to give veterans and other beginning farmers or ranchers better access to resources and opportunities in agriculture and agriculture-related careers.

Read more about how Battleground to Breaking Ground and other AgriLife Extension programs benefit veterans at https://tinyurl.com/AgriLifeVetStory.

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