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Veterans who are farmers share challenges

ADDISON COUNTY — The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) later this month will host a national virtual conference that promotes itself as being at the forefront of the military-to-agriculture movement.
The Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference will be held online Nov. 18 and 19 to help spread the word about the growing movement to support the veteran men and women who choose to continue their service to the country by feeding it. The gathering returns for the sixth year.
A national nonprofit that helps veterans pursue careers in agriculture, FVC mentors members of our armed forces who seek new ways to stay in communities they left in order to serve. When FVC was established in 2008, no one was connecting veterans with the farming community. Today there are more than 250 organizations supporting this movement. The Stakeholders Conference brings all the players together.
“A study showed that ever increasing numbers of our all-volunteer military are coming from rural areas,” said founder Michael O’Gorman. “We want to help them have a meaningful career when they return home. Farming has become their new mission.”
FVC has assisted thousands of veterans with aid that includes equipment, grants, business plans, training and peer collaboration.
The conference connects veterans who are geographically isolated and sometimes separated from access to services. It’s a forum for members to share their stories — their triumphs, struggles, lessons learned, and successes gained. It also serves as an introduction to resources available to veterans — from government, higher education, and partner organizations. Farmer veteran members benefit from exchanging ideas and building their own community, together as individuals with unique goals, but in a united spirit of camaraderie.
America’s farmer veterans have been severely affected by COVID-19. This year’s conference features two days of resources crucial to members during this time, through education, workshops, distinguished speakers, guest panels, networking, and development of FVC’s 25 state chapters.
FVC welcomes veterans — including those still serving — who are currently farming, interested in farming, or just want to learn more about the movement. They also welcome non-veterans who would like to show their support of these brave men and women and tune in for the agricultural education.
“While nothing can replace the energy of an in-person gathering, we are thrilled that this likely will be the largest gathering of our community,” said Natalie Monroe, communications director. “A virtual platform means every single one of farmer veterans has the real possibility of attending without having to travel away from their farms. They can even tune in from the seat of their tractor.”
More information is online at conference.farmvetco.org.

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