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Honoring Our Veterans, Supporting Farmer Veterans

Honoring Our Veterans, Supporting Farmer Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, Farm Credit recognizes the dedication and service our veterans have demonstrated in protecting our nation and the values we hold dear. At home and throughout the world, their training and focus have contributed to our safety and the safety of others, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families.

Many returning veterans are looking for a new career in agriculture, where their dedication can find a new outlet: helping to feed the world. Farmers and ranchers like Farm Credit customers Orlando Cadena, Josh Eilers, Jed Welder and two generations of the Lanford family are among those choosing this path.

Many are also encouraged and supported by the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), a Farm Credit national contributions partner, and a growing number are participating in the Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) labeling program to enable consumers to demonstrate their support for our veterans through their purchasing decisions.

Across the U.S., individual Farm Credit organizations are supporting veterans’ entry into agriculture through a variety of programs and initiatives. Here are highlights of just a few:

  • Capital Farm Credit is helping this new generation of farmers and ranchers gain the necessary technical know-how and farm entrepreneurial skills; the next phase of their program will include financing options for veterans who are getting started in farming and ranching. The organization also supports Texas A&M University’s free series, “From Battleground to Breaking Ground,” with financial support, speakers and educational materials, and is helping establish a Texas FVC chapter, including representation on the state chapter’s Board of Directors.

  • Carolina Farm Credit, AgCarolina and Cape Fear Farm Credit, all serving North Carolina, have partnered to offer a special AgBiz program for farmer veterans that will include a Farm Credit loan officer as a mentor for each participant. The new program requires less of a time commitment than the traditional AgBiz program, and there is no cost to farmer veterans who complete the program.

  • At Farm Credit East, veterans are now eligible for incentives available to Young, Beginning and Small (YBS) producers, including interest rate incentives, assistance with FSA guarantee fees and discounts for first-time use of financial services. The organization has an Army veteran employee designated as the farmer veteran liaison, and an employee serving on the organizing board for the FVC New York chapter. In addition, over the past last two years, Farm Credit East has hosted, sponsored and participated in a number of farmer veteran events, and provided financial support to veteran related organizations and initiatives.

  • Farm Credit of Western Arkansas introduced a Military Loan Program last October targeted at both current military members and veterans. The program features an interest rate discount, up to the first $200,000 of the loan amount, for the life of the loan. The association also waives all origination fees, though regular credit and repayment standards apply.

  • Farm Credit of Western Arkansas has also partnered with AgHeritage Farm Credit Services and Farm Credit Midsouth to support Arkansas’ HBH Program. Farm Credit is the major sponsor of the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s AR GROWN/ Homegrown By Heroes initiative, which supported an HBH member recruitment and information event held last month at the farm of a veteran who is also a Farm Credit of Western Arkansas customer.

  • Farm Credit West has established a Veteran Coordinator position, staffed by a long-time employee and Marine veteran, who also serves as a key member of the FVC Advisory Committee and helps supports key FVC administrative functions. The Veteran Coordinator also promotes the concept of agricultural careers to groups such as the Student Veteran Organization. Farm Credit West provides financial support to local veteran organizations, and offers special programs for young, beginning and small farmers, many of whom are veterans.
  • GreenStone Farm Credit Services committed staff time to serve on the planning committee for the FVC 2016 Stakeholders Conference, and, also in 2016, launched a blog series with Army veteran, farmer and customer Adam Ingrao about his journey from solider to farmer. The organization has also hosted a Profitability Boot Camp for Farmers training session and presented at two other Profitability Boot Camps, both focused on providing veteran, minority, young, beginning, small farmers with resources to successfully build their farm interests and businesses.

Farm Credit nationally is also committed to supporting veterans as they transition from the battlefield to the growing field. One of the most significant demonstrations of this commitment was the 2013 funding of the FCV’s efforts to expand the HBH program nationwide. Since that time, the HBH program has grown to 609 participants in 48 states, helping American consumers express their support for our veterans with their purchasing decisions. Farm Credit further supported the HBH program with the 2015 Salute to Farmer Veterans event in Washington, D.C., where tables overflowed with products raised by farmer veterans, many of whom were on hand to speak with legislators and media representatives.