In the last 10 years, almost one million military servicemen and servicewomen have come from rural communities. As these veterans return home, they bring with them an opportunity to employ their passion, discipline, and sense of service to revitalize America's small farms and rural communities.
Center for Rural Affairs, based in Lyons, and several partnering organizations this spring presented several workshops and farm tours to provide Veterans interested in starting their own farms or ranches with advice and resources.
Due to overwhelming participation in those successful workshops and tours, and high demand for more, the Center for Rural Affairs is currently planning farm tours and workshops for veterans and the public through the summer and early fall, says Kathie Starkweather with the center.
Farm tours in Nebraska with established farmers will demonstrate successful systems and strategies. All tours will be handicap accessible, free of charge and lunch will be provided at no cost.
"While some veterans return home to jobs, many are returning to rural areas where jobs can be scarce," says Starkweather, who is managing the project. USDA's Risk Management Agency awarded funding to Center for Rural Affairs and its partners to introduce new veteran farmers and ranchers to various areas of agriculture. According to Starkweather, the long-term goal for this project is to help new veteran farmers and ranchers successfully establish farms and ranches in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Missouri.
Farm tours will be held throughout July and August and a final workshop will be held in combination with a farm tour in Scottsbluff Aug. 17.
Farm tour dates and locations:
- Tuesday, Aug. 7, Bluestem Farms, 9 a.m.-noon (multi-market produce farm), Madison; Mike Krueger Farm, 1:30-3 p.m. (commercial cattle and grain farm, AgrAbility client), Pierce.
- Tuesday, Aug. 14, West Blue Farm, morning, (organic field grains, direct-market cattle and poultry), Milford; Del Ficke Farm, afternoon, commercial cattle and grain farm, farm partnership with sons, AgrAbility client, Milford.
- Friday, Aug. 17, workshop/farm tour combination: workshop 9 a.m.-noon, North Platte NRD Office, 100547 Airport Rd, Scottsbluff. Farm tours, afternoon, Mitchell Valley Farm (organic practices, produce and small grains); Victory Hill Farm (goat dairy and cheese making, pork, chevon and eggs, marketing at farms stands and farmers' markets.)
The workshops are free of charge to veterans, and lunch will be provided at no cost. Registration is requested for meal counts by calling the Center for Rural Affairs at 402-617-7946. The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Farm Credit Services are sponsoring the meals for attending veterans.
Individual assistance is available by contacting the Farmer Veteran Coalition at [email protected] or 530-756-1395 for farm business and veteran benefits, and the Center for Rural Affairs at [email protected] for 402-687-2100 for farm programs.
Additional information on the workshop agendas and later farm tours is online at www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project.Major funding for this project is provided by USDA Risk Management Agency. Partner organizations include the Center for Rural Affairs, Farmer-Veteran Coalition, Nebraska Farmers Union, Kansas Farmers Union, Missouri Farmers Union, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Kansas AgrAbility Project, Nebraska AgrAbility Project and Missouri AgrAbility Project.