Waco, TX (FOX 44) — Farmer’s Veteran Coalition is a nonprofit organization providing a grant to help veterans start their own business in agriculture.
This national group recently moved its headquarters to Waco, and this Sunday marks its 14th anniversary.
This grant is able to help veterans overcome the early-stage challenges of becoming a farmer.
As older farmers start to leave or retire, this organization helps fill the gap.
Farmer Veteran Coalition executive director Jeanette Lombardo says its mission is to take veterans who are exiting the military find jobs in agriculture and start their own farms and ranches.
“It means helping with training. It means helping them with access to capital. Access to land. Market access,” said Lombardo. “We’re there every step of the way.”
The fellowship fund grant started in 2012 with donors wanting to help veterans in their operations.
“Over the years, we’ve done things from just equipment to fencing, chutes of cattle. We’ve pretty much done it all,” said Lombardo.
With 38,000 members across the nation, the coalition moved its headquarters to Waco to be in a central location.
433 members applied for this grant last year and 1/3 are selected to receive funds.
Texas Farm Bureau spokesperson Gary Joiner says they see many veterans looking for opportunities like this.
“We’ve had members of Texas Farm Bureau with past military experience, come to us and ask, are there programs, are there specific opportunities out there to get into agriculture, maybe as a first time farmer or a rancher or to return to agriculture,” said Joiner.
To apply, you must be a veteran a part of the coalition, membership is free.
The grants range from $1000 – $5000.
Nick Flanigan, Farmer Veteran Coalition director of fund development, says the organization indirectly supports suicide prevention helping combat the high rates of suicide within veterans entering civilian life and farmers.
“They just struggle a lot with knowing how to keep busy. What’s their next purpose,” said Flanigan. “That’s what we’re trying to focus on.”
For more information you can go to their website.
The application deadline is February 14.
The coalition’s headquarter is in Downtown Waco, and they have a local chapter in College Station for anyone wanting to meet in person.