Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Veteran Farmers, In Their Own Voice


“Agriculture is not often the first thing people think of for returning veterans. That’s why we are elevating the discussion about veterans and agriculture.”  ~Secretary Vilsack

 This week, USDA hosted a meeting with veterans to discuss their experiences in agriculture, their food businesses and what the most pressing needs are for veterans participating in agriculture with  Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison Karis Gutter.

This week, USDA hosted a meeting with veterans to discuss their experiences in agriculture, their food businesses and what the most pressing needs are for veterans participating in agriculture with Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison Karis Gutter.

This week, Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and I met with 35 military veterans who are now farmers and ranchers. Hosted by the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Farm Credit Council, these men and women came to USDA to discuss the opportunities and resources available to veterans interested in agriculture. Many of them participate in the Homegrown by Heroes campaign which celebrates local products grown, raised and produced by farmer veterans across the country.

As the Department’s Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison and a veteran of the Marine Corps myself, I know there are many reasons military veterans turn to agriculture. For some, running a farm business gives them an opportunity to put their logistical training to work. For others, farming lets them continue serving their community. Many veterans talk about how working on the land helps them successfully transition to civilian life. And still others discuss how agriculture gives them purpose.

No one can explain the deep connection between veterans and agriculture better than veteran farmers themselves. Here are a few of their voices.

Michael O’Gorman is the founder and Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition which is dedicated to the success of veteran farmers.  For him, the most important thing is to tell the stories of military veteran farmers.

 

Alvina Maynard serves in the US Air Force and owns River Hill Ranch in Richmond, Kentucky. For her, raising alpacas and being a farmer is part of her continued service to her community.

 

During Aaron’s four years as a Marine he was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He is now the owner of White Stock and Produce, a diversified farm in Carlisle, Iowa.  Farming gives Aaron structure and purpose.

 

Jeremy Ireland served 3 years as an intelligence analyst in the US Army Reserves. Now, he and his wife Emily grow produce, raise laying hens and make maple syrup on Ireland Hill Farms in Swanville, Maine.  His farm has allowed him to smoothly transition into civilian life.

 

Justen Garritty serves in the US Army Reserves after two tours in Iraq.  As the owner of Veterans Compost which converts food scraps into high quality organic compost in the DC area, Justen knows that agriculture can offer jobs to veterans.

2 Responses to “Veteran Farmers, In Their Own Voice”

  1. Beverly O'Brien says:

    I am a NRCS contracted employee and regularly check out the USDA blogs to expand my understanding of the scope of USDA programs other than NRCS.

    FYI – None of the quotes show in this blog which is very disappointing. Is there a trick to viewing the content from a USDA workstation?

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Beverly O’Brien – thanks for reaching out! Glad you’re keeping up with the blog. For this particular one, try contacting your help desk to resolve the issue. Thanks!

Leave a Reply