The message that Farm Bureau supports military veterans came through loud and clear at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, starting with AFBF President Bob Stallman’s annual address to members on Sunday.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation is proud to partner with the Farmer Veteran Coalition to create opportunities on America’s farms and ranches for the brave men and women of our military,” Stallman said.
AFBF is working to put returning veterans on the front lines of farming and food production by helping to develop a mentorship network to pair returning veterans with Farm Bureau members.
“Our veterans still have much to offer their country, and we are honored to have them join us in producing our nation’s food, fiber and energy,” Stallman said.
“Dedicated, Disciplined and Determined,” a workshop for convention attendees, offered insights on why creating effective mentorship relations for veteran farmers is so important.
According to Michael O’Gorman, executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a few years ago there were more than 40,000 groups in the U.S. with “veteran” in the name but not one committed to helping veterans in agriculture. O’Gorman said the coalition supports veterans’ freedom to farm in whatever manner they wish to pursue.
Jamie Critelli, a veteran and greenhouse farmer in New York, said most veterans are familiar with planning, which helps equip them for farming.
“It’s not easy farming,” acknowledged Critelli. “Being in the military, you face many challenges. The environment in agriculture can be equally challenging at times,” he said.
Speaker Jason Foscolo, legal counsel at the Farmer Veteran Coalition, described the legal assistance program he runs for veterans that find themselves “at the intersection of agriculture and the military,” ready to start careers in farming.