For more than 25 years, CIFT has focused on its mission of driving competitiveness for food processors, manufacturers, and agribusiness through a unique blend of business solutions, innovations, and technical expertise.
CIFT officials work with partners and clients guided by our values of integrity, passion, and commitment. What makes working with CIFT different is its unique ability as a non-profit to deliver solutions and support innovation through direct services as well as vast resources of an extensive network, including the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), enables valuable interactions and meaningful results.
CIFT’s Navy veteran Isabel Montez (an outreach technician), and Louis Driever, an Ohio military veteran who served four years in the 2nd Ranger Battalion and current Urban Farmer are both on a three-year long mission to help Ohio veterans become more successful farmers by organizing an official Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) in Ohio. Driever is the current Ohio FVC president and CIFT’s Montez is the acting Ohio FVC vice president.
The Farmers Veteran Coalition stated mission is to “cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders, developing viable employment, and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities”.
Participants believe veterans have unique characteristics and skills that can strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems. And in doing so they believe agriculture offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefits for veterans.
With Ohio having an estimated 60,000 veterans, CIFT is passionate about supporting the development of veteran experiences in rural and urban agricultural industries. With nearly 1,000 current Ohio members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, there is an opportunity to work with, educate, and support Ohio Veterans through chapter exposure and network development.
The Ohio Farmer Veteran Coalition has been able to offer education, training for veterans in farming, writing business plans, networking, and information on grant opportunities. There are platforms to help launch skills and training learned in the military to help veterans find careers supporting workforce and agricultural industries. Engaging in these activities can be a way of relaxation, to be therapeutic, or even a calm for PTSD.
For veterans who want to eventually explore commercializing their agricultural markets CIFT can be a partner to help.
Once Ohio becomes an official chapter, Ohio veterans who are members have access to Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Fellowship Fund, a Kickstarter grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans who are in their beginning years of farming or ranching. They also will be able to use the Homegrown By Heroes Label which informs consumers that their agricultural products were produced by U.S. Military Veterans. The Farm Veteran Coalition also gives away 5 Kubota tractors a year.
FVC members receive discounts with participating agricultural suppliers and services providers, support and guidance including training, internships, mentor programs, financial, farming and business resources.
They may also attend the National Stakeholders Conference bringing the farmer veteran community together for two and a half days of distinguished speakers, expert panels, educational tracks, and networking.
The state chapter also hosts an annual get together the weekend nearest to Veteran’s Day.
CIFT Agribusiness provides technical solutions to companies involved in food and agriculture. The mission is to assist agribusinesses to improve their competitive position through the development and adaptation of emerging technologies, industry best practices, and novel business approaches. Within this scope, CIFT coordinates investigations into alternative growing practices and methodologies allowing for a unique capacity for increased food production.
Contact CIFT by visiting the website: www.ciftinnovation.org or calling our Toledo office 419-535-6000 to learn more about the progress of the Ohio Farmer Veteran Coalition or how CIFT can help get your program off the ground.
For information on the Farmer Veteran Coalition contact 530-756-1395 or visit www.farmvetco.org.
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