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USDA sets up apprenticeship program for veterans

Program is joint venture between multiple departments

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

The United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs are collaborating to launch an apprenticeship program to hire new employees as agricultural commodity graders.

The program is open to anyone interested in a career in agriculture, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes veterans will take advantage of the opportunity.

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"USDA is committed to supporting America's Veterans," Vilsack said in a release. "Our new apprenticeship program will give them a chance to join a talented pool of USDA professionals and leaders who ensure America's food maintains its quality and safety. If they are passionate about a career in agriculture, we want to help them achieve it."

Apprentices hired by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will receive 12 months of blended technical training on specialty crop inspection, grading and certification, and leadership and communications training.

Duties of the position include:

  • Inspecting products to determine the quality, condition and/or compliance with U.S. Grade Standards or states' contract specifications.
  • Making observations to determine if plant facilities, operating methods, processing equipment and personnel are in compliance with SCI sanitation requirements and FDA regulations.
  • Observing the raw product material to establish the suitability for processing and advising plant management of the results.  If/when corrective action by the plant is necessary, inspector monitors and assesses effectiveness.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said the program allows veterans, who are always looking to serve, to continue serving their country out of uniform.

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