Are you tired of working for somebody else and being part of the rat race? Are you in the service now and looking for something to do after you get out? If so, the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) may offer the opportunity you are seeking.
Not only can you become a farmer, you can be outstanding in your field.
The nonprofit organization helps active-duty members and veterans embark on careers in farming or related agricultural professions.
Whether you’re dreaming of buying a 3,000-acre ranch in Wyoming or an organic blueberry farm in Oregon; raising catfish in Alabama; or just want to have a few head of cattle and sell some produce at the local farmers market, the FVC can help.
The FVC, which was founded in 2006, has more than 13,000 members in all 50 states, as well as 13 state chapters that work to help service members and veterans begin and sustain a career in agriculture. The organization offers peer support and business help and gives members easy access to valuable local, state and federal resources that can help beginners become successful in the agribusiness field.
The Farm Bureau, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Council are among the FVC's many partners.
Some of the programs offered by the FVC and its partners include:
- The Farming Fellowship program, which provides grants of up to $5,000 to help beginning farmers purchase items necessary for daily operations. Some examples include: All-Terrain Vehicles, beekeeping equipment, breeding livestock, bulk feed, etc.
- The Homegrown by Heroes branding program, which allows ranchers, farmers and fishermen to differentiate their product in the marketplace and increase sales by certifying their product as coming from a veteran-owned business
- Educational workshops and webinars, including either direct assistance or recommendations on how to get started in agribusiness, how to find and finance land, how to finance equipment, how to develop a business and legal plan, developing a marketing strategy etc.
- A peer network program and mentorship program, which allows members to seek advice from other veteran-farmers who can assist with the questions only another farmer can answer.
The organization also can help with legal consultations, a government program specialist, business and financial planning, and career services.
Along with education and financial assistance, FVC members also enjoy discounts from equipment manufacturers, retailers and memberships in trade organizations or certification groups.
If you’re not totally sure that a career in farming or other agribusiness profession is right for you, the FVC also offers programs such as internships, apprenticeships or incubator farms to help you understand the real work that it takes to get a product from field to table.
Incubator farms give participants a small plot of land on a larger farm, where they have access to farm equipment and materials, as well as the opportunity to learn from each other. Incubator farms offer a chance to start your own farm without a large amount of capital and learn the financial aspects of farming.
Membership is free and available to any active-duty member or honorably discharged veteran. Check out the FVC website for more information.
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