In observance of Veterans Day, Kubota Tractor Corporation announced all five of its 2021 “Geared to Give” farmer veteran tractor recipients in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition from Buck Commander’s E3 Ranch in Fort Scott, Kansas.
While all five program recipients are being honored and recognized for their past U.S. military service and their continued service to their communities through farming, currently serving North Dakota Army National Guard 1st Lt. Ryan Blumhagen is being honored today in a special ceremony hosted by Buck Commander’s Adam LaRoche.
“We are proud to partner with Kubota in serving our veterans who serve our country and fight to protect the freedoms that we enjoy every day,” said Adam LaRoche, whose E3 Foundation has been giving back to veterans since it was established in 2017.
“Our life’s work is to help our customers achieve their dreams for their land, businesses, and loved ones with the durable and reliable equipment Kubota makes,” said Alex Woods, Kubota senior vice president of sales operations, supply chain and parts and a veteran of the Army National Guard. “Nothing makes me prouder than gifting Kubota large utility tractors, hay tools, and other Ag equipment to veterans who have the drive and determination to turn their farming dreams into reality — it is truly the American dream and one that we are honored to support alongside FVC. And this year, with the help of the Buck Commander team, Ryan is now empowered to tend to his land and advance his farming career.”
The Geared to Give program has provided equipment and grants to 41 farmer veterans through FVC’s Fellowship Fund since 2015, matching unique veterans’ needs with donated resources to help further their agriculture careers. The 2021 program received hundreds of applications from worthy veterans; in the end, one recipient was selected by and for each of Kubota’s operating divisions across the U.S.
Central Division: Master Sgt. Ben Henbest, who still serves in the U.S. Army Reserve, is from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and owns and operates Henbest Farms, where he raises Angus cattle and will put his new versatile MX Series tractor to use to manage his growing cattle operation. Ben grew up farming and went into the military as soon as he turned 18, deployed five times over 20 years, and returned home to farm. Ben was honored in a ceremony with PBR (Professional Bull Riders) during its Air Force ReserveCowboys for a Cause charity exhibition event aboard the historic U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington, in Corpus Christi, Texas, in early September. At home in Fayetteville, his servicing dealer is Springdale Tractor Co., in Springdale, Arkansas.
Northern Division: U.S. Army veteran Eric Grandon of Ovapa, West Virginia, is the owner of Sugar Bottom Farm, a growing full-service honeybee and honey production company. Eric was gifted a durable Kubota Sidekick utility vehicle to help him move his beehives with speed and ease around his hilly farm, while dealing with mobility issues. Eric has turned his bee operation into both a viable business and a path out of his struggles with PTSD, and he is the first to help other veterans in need. Eric was honored on July 4 on the field of a West Virginia Power AAA baseball game he attended with his wife and daughter. Eric’s servicing dealer is State Equipment Inc., in Cross Lanes, West Virginia.
Southeast Division: U.S. Marine Corps veteran Tracy Robinson, from Blakely, Georgia, owns a 500-acre farm where he grows peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat, and up until recently managed on his own by borrowing equipment from a friend. Tracy served 24 years with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Shield. He recently received the keys to a free one-year lease of Kubota’s highest horsepower M8 Series workhorse tractor at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia, on October 20. Back home, Tracy’s servicing dealer is Southern Tractor & Outdoors in Leesburg, Georgia.
Midwest Division: 1st Lt. Ryan Blumhagen, who has served in the North Dakota Army National Guard for more than ten years, owns and operates Ryan and McKenzie Blumhagen Farm in Drake, North Dakota. On their 2,100-acre farm, Ryan and McKenzie grow wheat, field peas, canola, soybeans, and flax, and will put their new MX Series tractor to use on a range of applications for field work, seed handling, moving equipment and supplies, and snow removal among many other tasks. The Blumhagen’s servicing dealer is Acme Tools in Minot, North Dakota.
Western Division: U.S. Army veteran Colleen Hudspeth from Fruitland, Washington, is the co-owner of Battle Cross Farm where she will put her M5660SU deluxe feature-packed utility tractor to use as her family raises cattle, poultry and swine. Colleen served in Iraq as a Chaplain’s assistant, helping tend to the dead and dying as a very young woman during some of the worst periods of the war. Colleen will be honored in a special ceremony on December 10 at FVC’s Western Regional Conference in Tacoma, Washington. Her servicing dealer is La Duke & Fogle Equipment in Colville, Washington.
“One of the great joys of doing this work is being able to make a positive impact on our farmer veterans by providing them with the support they need to succeed in their farming operations,” said Jeanette Lombardo, executive director of FVC. “All of this year’s selected farmer veterans, are passionate about farming and helping veterans, and have the right mix of passion and grit to sustain and grow their agribusiness endeavors. Kubota has become an invaluable partner to FVC and we are extremely grateful to continue this important work to help to reach veterans who operate in both urban and rural farming communities across the country.”
Each year, farmer veterans can apply to the FVC Fellowship Fund in order to be considered for donated Kubota equipment through the “Geared to Give” program. For more information on FVC’s 2022 application process, visit their website. For more information on the “Geared to Give” program, visit Kubota Cares.