The Farmer Veteran Coalition aims to bring together veterans and the agriculture industry. The coalition’s mission is to train the next generation of farmers by providing social, educational and financial resources, and fostering fellowship in the ag community.
Wisconsin’s own chapter began May 7 of this year, and since then has grown to 551 members. President Joe Koch says there was a great need for a Wisconsin chapter because veterans are a good fit for the ag sector. U.S. Army Veteran Joe Koch began cattle ranching after his time in the service. His grandparents farmed, and he says he always had a yearning to get back to it.
Now he mentors Wisconsin veterans as they begin their own agribusiness journey. It starts with helping people choose what to raise. And then folks can ‘practice’ through internship opportunities with farm partners.
Koch says the organization is focused on growing partnerships and membership. He’s also doing outreach — exploring what veterans are interested in so he can grow training opportunities for more farm commodities.
Nationally, the Farmer Veteran Coalition has about 33,000 members. Benefits of membership include commodity and business plan counseling, VA assistance, mentoring, internships, apprenticeships and corporate discounts for equipment, for example. The coalition also has a Homegrown by Heroes logo for its members and a website for people to purchase those products.