Access to capital is often one of the biggest challenges beginning farmers face, and to help farmer veterans, the Farmer Veteran Coalition has just distributed $470,000 in money and equipment to veterans across the country. This was done through the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, and it marks the largest amount awarded in program history.
More than 130 farmer veterans representing 41 states and all branches of service (with the exception of the Space Force) received notifications this week that they have been selected to receive an award to purchase things like beekeeping equipment, fencing, livestock, tractor implements, walk-behind tractors, and other supplies.
“At a time when the agriculture industry is feeling the effects of current events, it’s a great pleasure to give a well-deserved boost to our farmer veterans who continue to serve our nation through farming,” said Rachel Petitt, program director for the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, which focuses on awarding equipment and small grants in the amount of $1,000 to $5,000 to purchase items these farmers have identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business. “Without the generous support from our funders, it wouldn’t be possible to make such a big impact and provide this much needed assistance to our farmer veterans.”
Awardees of the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund were selected by third-party reviewers consisting of seasoned agriculture industry professionals from Farm Credit Council and their network of cooperative lending institutions, the National AgrAbility Project, and other partner organizations. Applications were judged based on the strength of a veteran’s business plan, personal investment in their business, vision and goals, and a clear need for assistance. The application period for the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund opens once per year, usually in January, at which time veterans have four weeks to submit an application.
Veterans who submitted an application to the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund had the option to apply for Kubota Tractor Corp.’s Geared to Give program, which donates five pieces of equipment and grants to Farmer Veteran Coalition members each year. Recipients of this year’s Geared to Give awards will be announced later this spring. The Geared to Give program has provided 41 pieces of equipment and grants to Farmer Veteran Coalition members since it was established in 2015.
Major funding for this year’s program was made possible by Wounded Warrior Project, Kubota Tractor Corporation, Tractor Supply, and Northwest Farm Credit Services. Additional funding and support was provided by Homestead Implements, Farm Credit West, Lamps Plus, Sugar Bottom Farm, Unearth Campaigns, Vital Farms, and G&R Farms/Military Produce Group.