Veterans Fight to Farm

New Help Available for Veterans Seeking Entry into Agriculture

 With his son, Matt celebrates his return home after serving in Iraq. Matt and his family look to begin a new chapter of their lives operating a farm, but a lack of access to land, financing, and support has made this journey difficult. 

Matt recently returned from military service in Iraq. He works for a construction company that builds beachfront high rises in South Carolina. But this hard working, self-reliant veteran dreams of a greater future for himself and his family.

He spent his childhood on a horse farm and joined the National Guard in college. After graduation, Matt was posted to Iraq and served as a Cavalry Scout Platoon Leader, putting his leadership abilities and hands-on approach to life into action.

For the moment, Matt’s construction job pays the bills. But for a driven veteran coping with the upheaval of returning from combat to civilian life, it isn’t the right fit. Matt wants to create something he values, work for himself, and build a solid future for his young family.

These days, Matt, wife Kimberly, and their two sons are looking for a farm. Matt wants to run an environmentally conscious livestock operation producing pastured meats. Kimberly’s marketing background will help build a profitable operation.

Their move can also benefit the community where they settle. America’s farm population is aging, and few new farmers are getting started. Veteran families like Matt’s can employ their passion, discipline, and sense of service to revitalize America’s small farms and rural communities.

HelpLine Resources

Veteran’s HelpLine,
contact Chris Ritthaler,
Farmer-Veteran Coalition,
530.756.1395 or
chris@farmvetco.org.

Farm Bill Helpline,
contact Traci Bruckner,
Center for Rural Affairs,
402.687.2100 or
tracib@cfra.org.

Veteran Farmers Project,
www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project
or contact Kathie Starkweather,
kathies@cfra.org or
402.617.7946.

But the road to getting started isn’t easy. Neither land nor financing is readily available, especially to those with limited farming experience. These young parents can’t afford to work as interns as they gain experience. They need to find a way to make money on their own operation to sustain their family. Matt and Kimberly looked for programs that could help them get started, but came up empty.

We’ve begun a new effort to help veterans like Matt become successful. Through the Veteran Farmers Project, the Center for Rural Affairs and our partners in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska will offer personalized professional consultations on farm production, business and financing. Kansas and Nebraska veterans can attend workshops in March and farm tours this summer to access in-person expert guidance. Two HelpLines are also available for families nationwide.

This project, along with existing programs like the Center’s Land Link program, can help veterans like Matt realize their dreams of farming, creating a better future both for their families and for America’s rural communities.

Questions or comments? Contact Amy Radding, amyr@cfra.org or 402.687.2100 for more information.