Bill Field and Cindy Chastain participated in the Farmer Veteran Coalition's first National Stakeholder Conference in Des Moines, IA, Nov 14-15. Michael O'Gorman, the FVC founder and director, along with the Drake University Law Center, put together an excellent program.
The keynote speaker on day one was Deputy Secretary of the USDA Krista Harden. She emphasized the veterans' programs supported by the USDA and announced the selection of Karis Gutter as USDA's first military veterans agriculture liaison. He will coordinate ongoing USDA support for active duty military and veterans.
Other sessions and panel discussions focused on subjects such as beginning veteran farmers, other agricultural careers opportunities besides conventional farming, government support programs, business planning, educational institute support and successful regional veteran ag programs. Cindy was one of three panel members for a breakout session on overcoming disabilities. Several SRAP participants were helpful in answering questions on the AgrAbility program during that session.
Chuck Baldwin attended the FALCON (First Americans Land Grant Consortium) conference November 8-10 in Minneapolis, MN. The experience was a positive one, gaining new contacts among the Native Americans in agriculture and learning of both the difficulties faced by this underserved population on their reservations and the positive steps being taken by the 1994 land-grant institutions to remedy the same.
FALCON is a nonprofit, professional association, sanctioned by motion of the AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium) board of directors, that represents administrators, faculty, and staff at 1994 land-grant institutions (Tribal Colleges and Universities). The FALCON portal shares information, fosters partnerships, promotes professional development and serves as a resource center for its members (see their website at http://falcon.aihec.org/Pages/FALCONHome.aspx).
Chuck highly recommends that SRAPs with 1994 institutions in their state or region be conscious of the needs their Native American agricultural workers may have and take advantage of any possibilities for working in tandem with these institutions and their underserved populations. (Click here for a map showing all land-grant institutions.)
Submitted by Chuck Baldwin