With the average age of a U.S. farmer at nearly 60 years old and millions of acres expected to change hands over the next few years, many Americans are thinking about who the next generation of producers will be.

Veterans could step in to fill the need, according to a white paper released this week by the Center for Rural Affairs. “Saluting Service: A Guide to Lending and Farm Program Resources for Veterans,” authored by Cora Fox, highlights the needs of America’s next generation of producers, which includes people who served their country and are now pursuing a second career in agriculture.

“Awareness of U.S. Department of Agriculture farm programs and key provisions, particularly with regard to lending, is important for veterans transitioning from the military to a second career in agriculture,” stated Anna Johnson, policy manager with the Center for Rural Affairs, in a news release. “Veterans must know what programs are available, and how to utilize them to fit the needs of their farming operations.”

The white paper outlines farm programs specifically targeting beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers, including Farm Service Agency loan programs and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs. Additionally, the author mentions programs and provisions added in the 2018 farm bill to help beginning farmers and ranchers.

“The impact of these programmatic changes is to be determined, but we recognize these changes reflect positive progress toward the removal of barriers for the next generation of producers,” Johnson stated in the release.

For more information and to view “Saluting Service: A Guide to Lending and Farm Program Resources for Veterans,” visit cfra.org/publications/SalutingService.