Program partners include American Farm Bureau Federation, AgrAbility, Farm Credit and National Farmers Union.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

October 5, 2020

3 Min Read
tractor planting field

The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), the nation’s largest nonprofit organization for assisting veterans and active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces to embark on careers in agriculture, recently announced that the program continues to expand, with new state chapters in Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The four new state organizations join a growing network now numbering 13 state chapters that boast ties to a national organization dedicated to cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders while helping veterans with their new post-service mission.

Headquartered in Davis, Cal., FVC services a network of more than 20,000 veteran members nationwide. FVC works with the agricultural community, partners and sponsors to support those who served the country once by defending it and now a second time as farmers feeding it.

“Ever-increasing numbers of our military veterans come from rural areas,” said Michael O’Gorman, the project’s founder and chief agricultural officer. “We find ways to offer them opportunities in agriculture. We assist veterans obtaining everything from equipment [to] business plans, financial advice and training.”

Rooted in the strong belief that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems, the organization recognizes that agriculture additionally offers veterans purpose, opportunity and physical and psychological benefits.

With a chapter presence already in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, FVC has a major impact at the local level.

Chapters are effective at integrating farmer veterans into local agricultural communities. They bridge the gap between a nationally driven movement and resources at the state/county level to help veterans achieve success in agriculture, and they are essential for ensuring that members are aware of regional opportunities.

FVC relies heavily on its state leaders to connect with members to offer an additional way to personalize the farmer-veteran experience to individual needs.

“Because national travel remains uncertain, our chapters may be the first to organize local gatherings and on-farm training opportunities that are so important to our members,” said O’Gorman, who said his greatest pride is helping these veterans with their new mission. “Even as we are unable to engage in person on a larger scale, chapter organizers are networking with local farmer-veterans through teleconference capabilities; the growth is occurring despite COVID-19.”

This, in part, fueled FVC’s goal for significant chapter development in 2020.

To facilitate this growth, FVC standardized the governance of chapters last year. At the national Stakeholders Conference in Austin, Texas, last November, more than 200 veterans dedicated an extra day to learn about building a presence in their states, showing their commitment to serving others and expanding FVC's impact across the U.S.

Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are the first to emerge as official new chapters since that gathering.

“Having these four new state chapters moves us one step closer toward our long-term vision of regional expansion in sync with the [U.S. Department of Agriculture's] 10 farm production regions,” said Jeanette Lombardo, who recently took over as executive director of FVC in July. "We have committed considerable time and resources towards developing more active chapters as we move into 2021."

Program partners include the American Farm Bureau Federation, AgrAbility, Farm Credit and the National Farmers Union, and the organization also receives support from USDA, Tractor Supply Co., Newman’s Own Foundation, Kubota, Altria and Prudential.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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