Army Veteran turned farmer, Jed Welder, got his start in agriculture with help from GreenStone Farm Credit.
From the army to the farm
Jed Welder is the owner and operator of Trinity Farms in Greenville, Michigan, where he raises corn, soybeans and oats on over 1,000 acres. He also operates a custom wheat harvesting and soybean rolling business. Before he embarked on a career as a farmer, Jed served as an officer in the United States Army for more than 10 years, with tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, serving as an armor officer.
“I served with some of the greatest men and women in the world,” said Jed regarding his time in the military. In 2008, he and his wife made the decision to transition from Army life to farm life. They returned to Michigan to start a family and their farm. “We loved moving to the country and enjoyed the challenges of learning this new profession,” says Jed. As they learned, the Welders quickly realized they would need access to land and capital in order to make their dreams of farming a reality.
Jed’s impressive leadership abilities are also demonstrated through his involvement with Homegrown by Heroes. Homegrown by Heroes is a certification that allows farmers of all military eras to sell their agricultural products.
“There are some great people that are marketing fruits and vegetables directly towards consumers," Jed said, "and we make sure to use the Homegrown by Heroes label on these products." This program is administered through the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Jed is a charter board member for the Michigan Chapter, which is one of the largest, most active chapters in the entire country with over 400 members.
A trusted partner
Jed knew that local farming communities are like the military – a close-knit group. He got to know some farmers in the area and sought their advice on getting started. Several recommended the local Farm Credit explaining that many of their local banks were unable, for one reason or another, to provide operating loans to farmers. Heeding their guidance, Jed prepared a business plan and made an appointment with a loan officer at his local GreenStone branch. “They understood what I wanted to do and what I needed to run my operation. They made good, solid recommendations, and over time became a trusted partner.”
As Trinity Farms has grown, GreenStone Farm Credit has been a partner along the way. This past summer, he financed the construction of a grain drying and storage system. “My loan officer came out to see the progress and talk with me about it,” said Jed. Besides the personal, individualized service, Jed feels one of the greatest benefits of working with GreenStone is having a partner who understands his business. “Their office is twenty minutes away; they know how the crops in our area look and what the prospects for harvest are because they are in the business of working with farmers.”
GreenStone Farm Credit understands
With challenging times on the horizon for much of the agricultural industry, Jed recognizes the importance of working with a lender like GreenStone, who not only understands the market cycles, but will be there to support rural communities and agriculture in good years and in challenging years as well. “Right now we are planting corn and soybeans with prices very near break-even. There is an exciting revolution in precision agriculture and technology that will help us be more efficient, but at the same time the cost of farming increases every year,” said Jed. “Having a lender that works with me, that knows my farm and the challenges I face, is more important than ever.”
After years of serving his country in the Army, Jed and his family serve again, this time through the hard work and dedication that is required of the farmers who provide the world with food and fuel.
GreenStone Farm Credit thanks Jed, and all veteran farmers like him, for their service to our country and their commitment to our rural communities.
In July of 2018, Jed joined more than 30 veterans in Washington, D.C. at the Farm Credit Farmer Veteran Fly-In. Farm Credit invited these veterans to Washington to help policymakers understand the importance of programs that enable returning service members to forge meaningful careers in agriculture. Jed also served as a panelist at the Senate Agriculture Committee, sharing his journey with policymakers.