Yesterday we talked about a program that can help you find an apprenticeship, and ultimately a job, in the construction industry. But what if you’re more of a country mouse than a city mouse? Well, then you probably want to take a look at the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
Started in 2008, The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is a non-profit helping veterans of all eras transition into the food, farming and agricultural industries. Headquartered in Davis, California, with current chapters in Maine and Iowa, the program helps veterans in the lower 48 states with financial assistance, education and advice, and networking opportunities. They have five main programs to help veterans interested in this industry.
– Fellowship Fund: Started in 2001, the Fellowship Fund is available for veterans looking to enter the farming/food industry and to those who are already established, but are looking to grow their business. Funded by the likes of the Newman’s Own Foundation and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the program is broken into two tracks – the Business Branch and the Education & Training Branch. Depending on the track, the fund provides veterans with grants, supplies, farming education (including textbooks!) and advice (in a one-on-one format), certification assistance, and mentorships. This program is available to all veterans, but focus is on transitioning Post-9/11 veterans and disabled veterans.
– Mentorship Matching: The Mentorship Matching Program connects veterans interested in or pursuing farming with individuals who are already established and who can provide advice on everything from business plans to technical details.
– Job and Internship Opportunities: Through networking, the FVC identifies employment and, for those veterans with the desire but no experience, internship openings in the relevant industries and places veterans into these opportunities.
– Farmer Veteran Events: Working with their partner organizations, the Farmer Veteran Coalition hosts educational retreats/workshops, conferences, tours, webinars, and other events designed to expand farmer veterans’ knowledge and network. Examples include the “Business of Butchery” Class being offered in conjunction with the Food Craft Institute 14 Apr-2 May (two scholarships available for veterans!) and the Empowering Women Veterans Regional Retreat, which will be held in Davis in June and will help women write business plans and draft loan applications.
– Farmer Equipment Donations: Still in its fledgling stages, this program is designed to provide new or used farm equipment to farmer veterans with service-connected disabilities and/or financial hardship. This program is still on an as-available basis, but is expected to grow later this year.
FVC also does farm visits, to help each veteran determine what they need for their specific situation, sends out monthly newsletters (for both farmer veterans and those who support them), and has an interactive, online forum for members. More details, as well as an online application to join, can be found on their page. You can also find profiles on other farmer veterans as well as their blog, “The Dirt.”
And, perhaps the most useful part of their page, is the 40 page comprehensive Resource Guide (downloadable on their resources page), which tells you positively everything you need to know to get started in farming, from different careers available, how to develop a crop and/or marketing plan, farm organizations, and even how to search for land if you want to own your own farm.
Be sure to check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, as they have a lot of great information on veteran farming-related topics, such as explaining the ins and outs of the 2014 Farm Bill’s veterans provisions, details on the extension of and the new priority category in the Value-Added Producer Grant program, upcoming conference dates, training opportunities, and veteran farmer blogs worth following.
© 2014, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.