Military veterans like Greg Branson have served our country honorably, and Farm Credit is proud to serve them in return.
Veterans, many from rural areas, possess unique skills and character traits that often strengthen their communities. Greg Branson, a fourth-generation farmer in Nezperce, Idaho, reflects on how the military hones these skills and speaks of his service fondly.
After high school, Greg was eager to take over the family farm growing wheat, Kentucky Bluegrass, canola and chickpeas. However, his dad knew he wasn’t ready. He feared if he gave Greg responsibility for the family farm too soon, he’d have to take it back shortly after. Now with the wisdom that comes with experience, Greg agrees with his dad, “I needed to grow up.”
Greg took all the money he saved up working for his dad on the farm and enrolled at the University of Idaho to study agribusiness and economics. Unfortunately, the money was gone in a little over a year and his grades were substandard. “College just wasn’t for me,” Greg says. “I’m a patriotic person, so I decided to do something for my country and joined the Army.” In the Army, he became a heavy-wheeled vehicle mechanic in a patriot missile unit and was deployed for one tour of the Middle East. To this day, Greg says “it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.”
When he returned home and re-enrolled at school, Greg saw the impact being in the Army had on his education and character. “I had a new sense of urgency and discipline,” says Greg, “I went from a 2.5 GPA before I left to a 4.0 GPA and I actually went to class.” Born to a farm family, Greg already had farming in his blood but credits his military experience as a key component of what makes him so successful in the field today.
Military and farm skills converge
Greg and his wife, Jen, have run the farm together for 10 years. Every day, Greg’s military experience contributes to the farm’s operations. The mechanical skills he learned, especially the ability to fix heavy machinery, are a huge asset. Plus, before the Army, Greg worked only for his dad. In the service, he spent a lot of time working with and for a diverse group of people. He’s a better boss because of it.
Ag an opportunity for all veterans
With their desire for meaningful work and the skills required for success, military veterans are often ideal candidates for agricultural careers. However, they often need financial and educational support. “Not many people come back and get the chance I’ve had,” Greg said. “Today, pursuing a career in agriculture means you need to win the lottery, or have a dad, uncle or great friend, like Northwest Farm Credit Services, to help get you off the ground.”
With Northwest FCS, veterans establishing careers in agriculture can take advantage of beginning farmer programs, including AgVision and RateWise. They also qualify for continuing education opportunities offered through webinars, meetings and online resources.