Veteran farmers’ service continues through agriculture

When I think of farmers, veteran farmers in particular, I think of hard working and innovative men and women. I see their work in rows of fields covering the rural landscape, in rolling green pastures dotted with livestock, and on shelves in grocery stores.

Farming is a livelihood, not an occupation. Family and community are at the center of its culture. These qualities help make farming an especially meaningful pursuit for many of our nation's veterans. The Center for Rural Affairs provides resources and education to help veteran farmers succeed.

The Center recently hosted a beginning veteran farmer conference, an experience where, as a member of the Air Force, I could connect with those whom I consider my brothers and sisters. We were in a setting that felt central to my being – both as a veteran and as a sixth generation Iowa farmer.

The day began with a great example of what it means to serve your country. Matt and Emely Hendl told us about their transition from a U.S. Navy career to living their dream as beginning farmers in Nebraska.

Their story is one of hard work, goal setting, partnership, mentorship, dedication, and innovation. It is an example of what it means to be a contributing member of society, which directly correlates to the skills, values, and ethics that Matt demonstrated in his military career.

Veteran farmers like Matt are keeping rural America vibrant, providing a safe place to raise our children, and securing the American dream. Their service isn’t over – it continues on through their work in agriculture.

If you are a veteran farmer and would like more information, please contact me at 402.687.2100 x 1012 or coraf@cfra.org. For online resources, visit www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project.

Feature photo: Veterans discussing land access at Answering the Call: Veteran Farmer Conference in Seward, Nebraska, on June 22.