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Farmer Veteran Coalition Helps Veterans Grow Food and Fiber

Retired Major Joel Heinzeroth is a strong supporter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition which helps military veterans find careers on the farm

Joel Heinzeroth always knew he wanted to farm.  He also wanted to serve his country.  After a 20-year career in the Army, Heinzeroth is retiring this summer at the rank of Major and will work full time on his farm and ranch near Mountain Park in southwest Oklahoma.

His “second” career as a farmer and rancher is made possible by assistance from the Famer Veteran Coalition.

Heinzeroth, 44, grew up on a north central Iowa farm growing corn, soybeans and hogs.  The youngest of six children, his parents encouraged him to pursue another career. 

Three deployments to Iraq and one to Korea followed his graduation from the ROTC program at Northwest Missouri State University. As a Field Artillery Officer he was often on the front lines, away from his family while serving his country.

“My career as an Army officer often took me away from my family,” Heinzeroth said.  “I am looking forward to spending more time at home, working on the ranch with my family.”

The veteran purchased 440 acres in Kiowa County and rents another 100 acres.  The main focus of the ranch is a 80-head commercial cow herd.

After 20 years in the Army, Joel Heinzeroth is enjoying spending more time with his family on the farm near Mountain Park, Oklahoma

This is therapy for me after serving in combat.

Maj. Joel Heinzeroth

The Army veteran sees similarities between the military and agriculture.

“Both require a strong work ethic and a love of the outdoors,” Heinzeroth said.

He specifically mentioned the 7 core values listed as the foundation of the Army: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

“These values are important for the military and for agriculture,” Heinzeroth said.

He applied to the Farmer Veteran Coalition for a $5,000 fellowship grant to purchase a Priefert cattle handling chute.

“My old equipment was old, difficult to use and not very safe,” Heinzeroth said.  “The new chute is safe, fast and efficient.”

He also learned about crowdfunding through the FVC.  He recently financed an overhead feed bin that allows him to store large amounts of feed for his cattle.

His goal is to build a ranch for his family, which includes wife Codie, daughter Emma, 8, and infant son Brett.

“I want to leave them something for the future, even if they don’t want to farm and ranch, at least they will have this land to use for whatever career they choose.”

LEAD Golf Tournament supports the Farmer Veteran Coalition

On August 17th AFR LEAD will hold a golf tournament supporting the Farmer Veteran Coalition on behalf of the Farmers Union Foundation Inc.

View the full issue of AFR Today

Summer 2017

AFR Insurance rewards fire departments, scholarship recipients, Farmer Veteran Coalition, more