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As the clock ticked toward midnight and 2021 was in our rearview mirror, the team at Farmer Veteran Coalition took a moment to reflect on its proudest moments of last year.

One of those moments was the farm equipment FVC awarded to 138 farmer veterans through the Fellowship Fund small grant program. The 2021 class of awardees' stories and impact the program had on this very diverse collection of members is inspiring. Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo said, “As FVC starts this next round of funding, the stories of 2021 are a wonderful reminder of the importance of our mission. These stories drive our efforts everyday as we seek new funding and create programs to help our Farmer Veterans throughout the country.”

Now in its 11th year, the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund has granted over $3.5 million in support of 800+ military veterans pursuing careers in agriculture. As one of FVC’s core programs, it helps beginning farmers and ranchers with what’s often their greatest hurdle—access to start-up capital.

Last year that came in the form of hot ticket items like greenhouses and grow tents, walk-in coolers and cold storage units, milking systems, water filtrations, and honey extractors. Some of the more unique requests included a mushroom substrate steamer and a copper still. With the arrival of spring, 138 deserving members of the nationwide nonprofit organization welcomed the thrilling news that their equipment request had been granted and would soon be delivered to their farm. Many have already found improved efficiency in their business as a result. “It was taking me four hours to fill up my 1,100-gallon leg tank and now with my Generac pump I can fill the tank in about 15 minutes,” said David Volkman, an Army veteran who served for nearly three decades before starting Ohio Valley Hops.

Now with the calendar turned to 2022, FVC welcomes the arrival of their next funding cycle.

“Our sights are set high for 2022: we anticipate raising $500,000 to give out to this year’s class of Fellows,” beams Rachel Petitt, the program director. “We recognize this is a lofty goal, but we are really close so it definitely feels achievable.”

The application opened Jan 3 and remains available through Feb. 14.

Funding for the 2022 cycle is made possible by Wounded Warriors Project, Kubota, Tractor Supply Company, Homestead Implements, Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment, Vital Farms, Sugar Bottom Farm, Barreras Family Farm and Northwest Farm Credit Services.

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