Salute to Farmer Veterans

By Gary Matteson
June 4, 2015

I’d like to think that Farm Credit’s Salute to Farmer Veterans has something in common with the salutes exchanged in their military careers:  that our salute is a privileged gesture of respect and trust.

I understand that a salute is also a way to focus attention on what is going to happen next.  After the salute occurs, there are likely to be some very specific instructions about what will be done next.  You could say that a salute is the first step in communicating a plan for the future.

Farm Credit arranged a recent fly-in and Congressional reception as a salute to farmer veterans.  The logical question is: what do we expect to happen next after this salute?

Well, Farm Credit is ready for farmer veterans to tell us about their future in agriculture.  We are ready to listen to their ideas and help answer some tough questions.  Like, “What’s going to happen next in your farming careers?  Where are you going to be in five years?”

Faith in the future has always been the mark of farmers.  Faith is the substance of things unseen.  Faith in the future allows us our dreams, desires, longings, and aspirations.

I hope farmer veterans can picture the place they want to carry out their farm business and what that business will be.  I hope they can see the place they want to be in the world, their place in a rural community that needs them to be rural entrepreneurs, examples to others, and leaders among men and women.

But farmer veterans have to plan for success.  It doesn’t just happen.  They have to have faith in their knowledge of why they want to farm, be able to call out the motivation that makes them work long past dark, get up at 2:00 in the morning to pull a calf, and then start the next day at sunrise.

Here’s where Farm Credit can fit in to farmer veterans’ futures.  If faith is the substance of hope, Farm Credit can provide the underpinnings to that hope, the sense of security, safety, and sharing of risk that allows farmer veterans to dream of what they want and to realistically plan for a future.

Farm Credit seeks to use our expertise in farm finance to help farmer veterans formulate business plans with the financial wherewithal to survive the risks and perils of the future.  Our sense of mission and commitment to assist beginning farmers is intensified in serving the needs of farmer veterans.

We are deeply rooted in supporting farmers, ranchers, and rural America.  Farm Credit is organized as a cooperative.  We can only succeed when our farmer members succeed in their farm businesses.

That is our vision of where Farm Credit will be in five years, in fifty years.

As for right now, Farm Credit salutes farmer veterans.  This salute is a privileged gesture of respect and trust.  This salute is meant to communicate our thanks, our commitment to support farmer veterans, and our willingness to listen to their dreams so we can help them formulate plans for their own future.


About Gary Matteson
Gary Matteson knows agriculture first hand. Until recently he was a small farmer operating a greenhouse business in Epsom, New Hampshire. Matteson now works at the Farm Credit Council, the trade association for the nationwide Farm Credit System. He is an advocate for young, beginning, small, and minority farmer outreach programs. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, generating new program ideas to benefit them. In addition to working directly with farm groups, Matteson is active in policy related to new entrants to farming. He now serves on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.