Funding for soldiers-turned-farmers open through Feb. 14

Beekeeping equipment and breeding livestock. Fencing and storage freezers. Tractor implements and all-terrain vehicles.

For hundreds of farmers in past years, a small grant from the Farmer Veteran Coalition has purchased these crucial pieces of farm equipment and made a difference in their livelihood. And now FVC is awarding another year of grants.

These faces are simply a handful in the collection of members the Farmer Veteran Coalition—the nation’s largest nonprofit helping veterans pursue careers in agriculture—has funded with a Fellowship Fund grant since 2011. With awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, funding for the fellowships come directly from the community, individual supporters, and ag and partner organizations.

Each face of a farmer veteran has a story to tell. A story of military service, a story of agricultural service.

“The grant directly purchases a piece of equipment the farmer has identified as being critical to their operation,” explains Farmer Veteran Coalition Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo. “Our veterans have put their lives on the line to protect us. It is a great honor to now help them in feeding their communities.”

For many, the launch of their farming operation may not have been possible without the financial assistance from FVC.

“Having a brain injury can be frustrating at times, but animals provide a reprieve for me. Farming keeps me sound in my mind,” former Marine Ben Misko reflects. He now owns Restless Roots Farm in Central Pennsylvania. “I asked for this equipment so I can provide for my animals without additional financial burden. I am grateful to FVC for that.”

With less than a week to go in this application cycle, submissions are flooding in for the 2021 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, which closes Feb. 14. Applicants are evaluated by an independent review committee, with awards granted in the spring.

FVC is actively fundraising to help as many members as possible with this year’s cycle—veterans on their new mission to feed the country. This year support of the Fellowship Fund is especially critical as many small farm businesses were affected by COVID. Already contributing funding for this year’s program are Wounded Warrior Project, Kubota Tractor Corporation, Tractor Supply Company, Prairie Grove Farms, Tarter USA, Homestead Implements, Vital Farms, and Sugar Bottom Farm. Administration of this program is made possible through Farm Credit’s stewardship.

“Together we can be the catalyst for a veteran’s dream of becoming a farmer,” a passionate Lombardo conveys as she gets ready for her first full Fellowship funding after taking over the director role last summer. “They are the future of American agriculture.”

To sponsor equipment for the Fellowship Fund, contact Rachel Petitt at [email protected]. To donate to support farmer veterans directly, visit or text GIVE and the dollar amount to 270-838-3276 (270-VET-FARM).

Applicants must be FVC members. There is no charge to become a member. Those interested in applying for the grant may do so online at

As Rachel Petitt, who directly oversees the program, shares: “February 14th is just around the corner! You can skip sending us flowers and chocolate, but don’t forget to send your business plan!”