Thursday, March 28, 2013

From Battlefield to Farmland

Once military veterans retire from serving our country, they may find it hard to find a job that fits their skill set.  An organization called The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is working to help join unemployed veterans with farming, an industry that is in desperate need of new people entering the field (pardon the pun!).  As those in the farming industry know, starting to farm is not easy.  The costs of land, time, equipment, and labor as well as the shortage of land are all barriers to entering the industry.

This matchup of veteran and farmer seems to be a good fit thinks Tia Christopher, the chief of staff of FVC.  She says, "Even in these rough economic times, the agriculture field offers many viable career options. Job opportunities include everything from shipping and managing to vegetable farms and vineyards. Along with the economic opportunities, working with the land and animals has proven to help veterans heal from the trauma of war. I like to think that after living through some pretty traumatic experiences it's cathartic to watch things grow."




FVC is helping veterans to start farming in rural as well as urban farm settings.  Currently, the organization has a network of 600+ veterans in 47 states.  To help veterans establish a farm, the FVC has a grant program that has given over $200,000.

Christopher also says, “The future of FVC is very exciting. This month we launched our used farm equipment exchange and donation program (FEED), which will match unused farm equipment and implements with deserving Farmer Veterans in Iowa and California (our pilot states). We are also working on FVC chapters across the country. Lastly – two of our main focuses going forward are working with women veterans in agriculture and in financial literacy for beginning Farmer Veterans."

To read more about the FVC program, please see the article "The Farmer Veteran Coalition".  

As a farmer, do you think this program will help bring new people to the farming industry?  What kind of information is critical for the FVC to teach veterans before starting a farm?  Would you be interested in being a mentor for this program?


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