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Returning Iowa Veterans: Getting Armed to Farm

PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Homegrown By Heroes initiative allows all American farmers and ranchers who have or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military the ability to use the logo on their agricultural products. Photo credit: USDA photo by Tom Witham.
PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Homegrown By Heroes initiative allows all American farmers and ranchers who have or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military the ability to use the logo on their agricultural products. Photo credit: USDA photo by Tom Witham.
July 21, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – A big weekend is approaching for military veterans across the region who are ready to take their boots from the battlefields to the farm fields.

The Midwest Conference for Farmer Veterans aims to connect vets and service members considering a career in agriculture with information and resources on everything from land access to food safety.

"For example, USDA,” says Matt Russell, state food policy project coordinator of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University. “The USDA has tremendous programs to help family farmers.

“If you didn't grow up in agriculture, you might not understand all of those resources. So, just helping them navigate that, that would be one of the services that we're providing as well."

The farmer veterans conference will be held this Friday and Saturday at Drake University in Des Moines, and will include a tour of a diverse farm operation.

More than 40 percent of military members come from farms and small towns, so Ed Cox, chairman of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa and staff attorney of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, says it's also a vital for rural development to help veterans put down roots and grow a career in agriculture.

"So, if we can get these people that have a record of service to their country back in those rural communities, not only as farmers, but as leaders in the community, it can be a very valuable asset for those rural communities," he says.

Cox also notes that some returning veterans are looking for a continued sense of service and purpose, and with farming, they can get that by helping to feed their communities and their country.





John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA