A couple of weeks ago Anthony and I jumped ship, leaving our eight kiddos and the farm with my parents. We shared one small bag and headed to Austin, TX. It was one of the most amazing farming conferences we have attended.
For four beautiful days we were surrounded by over 500 Veteran farmers at the Farmer Veteran Coalition Lone Stars and Stripes Stakeholder Conference. Over the past four years we have been a part of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, supporting their mission of “Mobilizing Veterans to Feed America”. This conference was a chance for both of us to connect with fellow veteran farmers around the United States. We shared ideas, trials, and triumphs. It was beyond rewarding and motivating.
“To late Navy, you lost your chance.”
My favorite part was when guest speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Keith W. Wilson, gave a call to each branch of service. He asked if there were Navy in the house and a handful quietly raised their hands. As he moved on to Marines, a Navy gave a shout out… “To late Navy, you lost your chance,” Wilson responded to a roar of laughter. Marines, AirForce, and Cost Guard all gave a polite response. Then my sweet, sweet Army family lifted the house as hundreds of soldiers in unison banged a fist on the table, arms shot straight up into the air in a strong proud salute and a deafening HOOAH!! Yes, we outnumbered but even if there would have been a handful, we would have still been the loudest and its small moments like that which melt in this Army wives heart.
Such amazing stories and talents of young men and women changing the landscape of agriculture. The military, for all the things it has taken from us, has also given. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity, Personal courage, and above all a sense of camaraderie unlike any other.
Responsive to Change
There were two take-a-ways that stood out in the wealth of knowledge shared.
1. Anthony and I want to really focus on the camaraderie of fellow veteran farmers and their families and are going to take a more active role in working along side the Farmer Veteran Coalition to do that. More to come!
2. Nebraska…needs to change.
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
This conference had representatives from almost every state, except Nebraska, as well as the federal government talking about the growth in the agricultural industry in niche markets. It seemed every other state recognizes the profitability to those engaging in unique agriculture en devours. All of these states recognize the need for young farmers to carry on the industry in what is a quickly aging out and dieing generation of farmers. They also understand that their small local farmers produce local income for their city and state. This keeps money in state and growth viable. This acknowledgement has lead to laws, resources, and regulations favoring small, beginning, veteran, and woman farmers.
The more our family works and grows in Nebraska the more we learn of how this state needs to make changes. Row crops and feed lots are an important part of the history of this states agriculture but there is so much more that encompasses the agricultural industry and Nebraska leaders need to be responsive to this.
Standing ready to feed our community
We are only one small farm but if we can help to make even a slight positive difference we have done well. Anthony has served 20 years in the United States Army, and me by his side, upholding and fighting for our freedoms and we will continue to do so in the agricultural industry. Standing ready to feed our local community and help others do the same.
Today is #GivingTuesday, whether you support veterans, farmers, or just plain love to eat! Support those who have given you freedom and now feed you. Give to the Farmer Veteran Coalition today.
Love, Anthony & Mariel