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Mission, Purpose, & Therapy From Farming: Help for Veteran Farmers

Researched by C. Orlowski & R. MacDougall. Written by R. MacDougall

Though the activities of farming can be therapeutic, an operating farm is a business.  Like with other businesses, farming requires know-how and experience. It requires developing or accessing infrastructure, production, and marketing. It requires business planning.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says “you are in the business of farming if you cultivate, operate, or manage a farm for profit, either as owner or tenant. A farm includes livestock, dairy, poultry, fish, fruit, and truck farms. It also includes plantations, ranches, ranges, and orchards.”

To help Veterans and others succeed in the business of farming, various agencies and organizations provide opportunities for financial help, land access, business guidance, and other support.

This article, the third and final in our Mission, Purpose & Therapy From Farming series, presents some of these sources of help. (See article 1 here and article two here.)

NOTE:  Know A Vet does not endorse or guarantee any of the programs mentioned here. We include them for information purposes.

Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is a nonprofit organization helping Veterans in their beginning years of farming or ranching. It offers a range of programs and benefits to members (free to join), such as:

  • Small grants ($1,000 to $5,000) through the Veteran Fellowship Fund. FVC gives the money to third-party vendors for items that the Veteran farmer or rancher identifies as crucial to starting their business. Eligibility requirements include being a FVC member, proof of military service, and a business plan. FVC explains business planning components, as well as the grant application process, in this webinar video:

Land Stewardship Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating change in the food and farming system.  It offers a range of resources for new farmers as well as retiring farmers, including:

New Entry Incubator Farm

Tufts University – New Entry Sustainable Farming Project works locally, regionally, and nationally to strengthen local food systems by supporting new farmers. It offers several business-oriented programs, including:

  • Farm Business Planning Course is a fee-based online course with scholarships for Veterans. The course covers topics that lead to a written business plan. A business plan is often mandatory for obtaining farm loans and other financial help. New Entry says the USDA Farm Service Agency recognizes this course as fulfilling one of their financial management training requirements.
  • Explore Farming is a free online workshop. It aims to help beginning farmers assess resource needs and availability, food system opportunities, and identify next steps in getting started in a new farm business.

Farm Answers is a clearinghouse of resources for beginning and experienced farmers and ranchers.  It is sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Features include:

  • The Producer Programs search tool for finding programs by:
    • Audience (like Veteran and women)
    • Topic (like financing, farm transition, and business management)
    • Production type (like local foods, organic, and urban agricultural)
    • Delivery area (like national, online, regional)
  • A Library of materials on thousands of topics in the areas of:
    • Business Management
    • Marketing
    • People
    • Production
    • Taxes & Legal


U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency dedicated to small business. It has several programs dedicated to helping Veterans, active duty military, and spouses.

  • Boots to Business provides entrepreneurship training and education. The Introduction to Entrepreneurship course includes steps for developing business concepts, how to develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources available to help.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program helps develop entrepreneurs through services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it is committed to helping Veterans. It offers help specific to Veterans as well as help to anyone pursuing the business of farming. It does this through multiple programs and agencies.

From Farm to Fork – Veterans in Agriculture and Agribusiness
USDA includes Veterans in their New and Beginning Farmers program. This program helps beginning farmers and ranchers get started or grow an operation through a variety of services. Help includes:

    • advice and guidance, from business planning to technical assistance
    • access to capital to help with operating costs, and acquire land or equipment
    • conservation programs that help take care of natural resources while improving operation efficiencies
    • insurance & disaster recovery options
    • USDA Service Centers for free one-on-one discussions of how USDA can help
    • Farmer Coordinators that can explain the USDA process and how to get help
  • Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) help agricultural producers with value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Veterans can fall into one or more of the categories to which priority may be given.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides loans and other programs to help farmers.
    • Farm Loan Programs help farmers and ranchers start, expand, or maintain a family farm. Part of FSA loan funding is set aside for beginning farmers and ranchers. Loan types include:
      • Operating Loans (to purchase livestock, seed and equipment, or to cover operating costs and living expenses while a farm gets up and running)
      • Farm Ownership Loans (to purchase or expand a farm or ranch)
      • Microloans (for small and beginning farmers, or non-traditional and specialty operations)
      • Emergency Loans (to help recovery from losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters or losses)

Learn more about the various types of loans in USDA publication Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans.

Cover crops help preserve ecosystems

    • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial resources and one-on-one help to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to plan and implement conservation practices. Such practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, while improving farming operations.
    • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) pays farmers to maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities.

Other Resources 

SOURCES

Beginning Farmers. (n.d.). Military Veteran Farmer Training. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from  https://www.beginningfarmers.org/beginning-farmer-training-programs/military-veteran-farmer-training/

Beginning Farmers. (n.d.). Starting a Farm. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.beginningfarmers.org/planning-a-new-farm/#:~:

Farm Answers. (n.d.). Farm Answers—the Largest Source of Information for Beginning Farmers. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://farmanswers.org/

Internal Revenue Service. (n.d.). About Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide. IRS. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-225

Land Stewardship Project. (n.d.). New Farmers. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from  https://landstewardshipproject.org/new-farmers/

Little Farms for Veterans. (n.d.). Our Mission. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://littlefarmsforveterans.org/about-us/

National Agricultural Library. (n.d.). Veteran Farming. USDA. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/aglaw/veteran-farming

Natural Resources Conservation Service. (n.d.). Programs. USDA. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/

Rural Development. (n.d.). Value-Added Producer Grants. USDA. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/business-programs/value-added-producer-grants

Texas AgrAbility. (n.d.). BattleGround to Breaking Ground Program. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://txagrability.tamu.edu/bgbg/

Tufts University. (n.d.). Farmer Training. NESFP. Retrieved September 10, 2022, from https://nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu/farmer-training

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.) Farm Loan Programs. USDA. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/index

U.S. Department of Agriculture (n.d.). How to Start a Farm: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. USDA. Retrieved September 11, 2022, from https://www.farmers.gov/your-business/beginning-farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Loans. Farmers.gov. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.farmers.gov/loans#loan-options

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Resources. USDA. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.fsa.usda.gov/

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Veterans and Entrepreneurship. USDA. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/veterans/veterans-and-entrepreneurship

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, August). VA Home Loans. VA. https://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/homeloans/FarmLoans.pdf

U.S. Small Business Administration. (n.d.). Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program. SBA. https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/resource-partners/veterans-business-outreach-center-vboc-program

U.S. Small Business Administration. (n.d.). Welcome to Boots to Business. SBA. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://sbavets.force.com/s/

Walk Your Talk Productions. (n.d.). College Degree Programs. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://walkyourtalk.tv/get-involved/education-degrees/

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