Wednesday, February 29, 2012

From the Front Lines to the Farm

First-of-Its-Kind Workshop to Teach Veterans about Heritage Breed Agriculture

Pittsboro, NC - Join the Farmer Veteran Coalition(FVC) and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) May 4 – 5, 2012, for a two-day intensive workshop that will help transform today’s veterans into tomorrow’s farmers. This first-of-its kind workshop will educate and train America’s service men and women on the skills necessary to steward some of America’s most historic and endangered farm animals.

“ALBC is the perfect partner for FVC,” said Chris Ritthaler, National Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the Farmer Veteran Coalition. “Many of our veterans come to us without a background in agriculture and do not feel constricted by ‘accepted’ American agriculture practices. Most realize the need to find niche markets in order to find success as a Beginning Farmer/Rancher and heritage breeds are the perfect opportunity for these vets to find their market share.”

The workshop, titled From Service to Stewardship, will be held at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, NC.  Friday’s program will include a full-day classroom session featuring many local farmers. “Friday’s activities will introduce attendees to a variety of heritage breeds that are a good fit for the small farm,” said Jeannette Beranger, Research and Technical Program Manager for ALBC. On Saturday, attendees will select a track and visit local, successful small farm operations where they will get an up-close look at the realities of heritage breed farming. Over the course of the two days, veterans will learn about hog production, poultry production, heritage cattle, raising equines, and small ruminant production. In addition, vets will be introduced to the marketing aspects of raising heritage breeds.

Veterans’ experiences of hard work, discipline, and dedication, as well as their training in planning and logistics, make them well-suited for entrepreneurial businesses such as farming. Many veterans come from small towns and rural areas where farming is an important element of the local economy. By bringing new types of farming back to these communities, these individuals help not only themselves and their families but give back to the local economy. “Our goal is to help returning veterans and retired service members improve their ability to succeed financially in heritage breed agriculture by providing them with the educational materials, hands-on training, information, resources, and consultation,” said Charles Bassett, ALBC Executive Director.

This workshop stems from the growing demand from veterans for more information about heritage breed agriculture. ALBC and the FVC have experienced a rapid rise in call volume and inquiries from veterans seeking help getting started with heritage breed agriculture. Bassett adds, “The men and women that fought for our country are now fighting for the futures’ of the historic breeds that founded this country.”

To register for the workshop, call the ALBC office at (919) 542-5704, or email The cost of the workshop is $95. Veterans have priority registration. After April 1st, the workshop will be opened up to the general public for registration.


About the Farmer Veteran Coalition:
FVC, based out of Davis, California, provides veterans with informational resources on beginning farming operations (e.g. links/contacts for appropriate federal programs, apprenticeships/internships), educational retreats and conferences and when available, small grants. FCV assists veterans in locating the resources needed to start a new career in the field of agriculture. Where available, they try to provide mentors for veterans as well as connections to agriculture training programs. When approached by new veterans they get a general picture of their service career and their specific interests and background in agriculture. FVC also has assessment tools to assist farming veterans in determining their strengths and weaknesses and to ensure that their needs can be met through the application of appropriate resources.

About ALBC:
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect over 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are donkeys, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. Founded in 1977, ALBC is the pioneer organization in the U.S. working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. ALBC’s mission is to ensure the future of agriculture through genetic conservation and the promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

For the full workshop agenda, visit: