(NewsNation) – Thousands of farmers have left the land for other jobs, leading to a nearly 20% drop in the number of agricultural workers over the past 20 years, according to the International Labor Organization.
Ken DeVan, who has over 20 years of military service under his belt, tried his hand at farming after retiring from the service.
The career change changed his life, he said.
“I’m kind of my own boss when my wife isn’t around,” he said. “Nobody shoots me.”
The job also helped DeVan heal.
“You can’t spend three rounds in Iraq and not be hit,” he said. “Everything is fine here, unless the coyotes eat your chickens.”
According to the USDA, the average age of an American farmer in 2017 was 57.5, and experts believe that number is higher today.
“We have an aging generation of farmers and we don’t have the next generation of family members who stay on the farm,” DeVan said.
He believes the farming business could use more retired veterans.
“The army is a culture of planning, we don’t just do anything. Farmers need to be planners,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that “About 24% of military veterans put down roots in rural America.”
The USDA also reported that the median household income in agriculture in 2022 is around $88,000 per year.
Agriculture is not just about transforming land either. There is mechanical farming, drones to monitor crops and agricultural business.
“Continue your military service to feed a nation, because without food it’s kind of hard,” DeVan said.