by Whitney Flach
The Veterans in Agriculture program works to connect veterans to opportunities in agriculture in the state. The program is a collaboration between farm and veteran organizations in the state, including Home Base Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
David Baker, vice chair and interim treasurer for Veterans in Agriculture, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a farmer. He said it just made sense for him to help other veteran-farmers find their way into agriculture.
Veterans learn about various loan programs and tax credit programs for which they might be eligible.
To get started, veterans fill out an online application, and the program works to match veterans with farmers who might be able to provide an opportunity to learn more about careers in agriculture, or an opportunity to farm themselves.
The Veterans in Agriculture program also offers opportunities for veterans to network and share their experiences. Soon, the program will be working with local equipment manufacturers and dealerships to offer discounts and training related to farm equipment.
The idea is for farmers or landowners to donate equipment they no longer need to the non-profit organization. Veterans in Agriculture would then allow the veteran-farmers to use the equipment.
Baker says that veterans make great farmers because of the qualities and skills they gained in the military. “The discipline that the military demands of you carries over to farming,” Baker said. “The discipline of getting up early in the morning to take care of the chores you need to get done, and strategize about what you can do today that improves your situation, and improves the farm.”
Like farmers, veterans also have a respect for other people and a deep love for the land. “Farmers are loving, caring people. They care about the soil, the earth, the environment.”
For more information about the program, go to iowafarmerveteran.org.