2014 Veterans in Ag Summit

planting a tomato seedlingVeterans in NY Agriculture Summit

On November 6th, 2014, the Cornell Small Farms Program hosted the NY Veterans in Agriculture Summit at the NYS State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The Summit was attended by veterans in NY agriculture, or organizations interested in, or currently serving farmer veterans.

About the Veterans in Ag Summit

The Veterans Summit  offered attendees an opportunity to meet others interested in supporting veterans getting into agriculture; better understand the support services available to veterans and those interested in agriculture; and design programs and pathways to help veterans enter agriculture.

About the Organizers

The Summit was presented by a diverse team of collaborators:

  • Cornell Small Farms Program
  • NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Division of Veterans Affairs
  • Farmer Veteran Coalition of New York
  • New York Farm Viability Institute
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension: Jefferson, Monroe & Erie Counties


The day began with ‘lightning’ introductions from organizations in NY that serve farmer veterans.

Jamie Critelli (Image courtesy of FVC)

Jamie Critelli (Image courtesy of FVC)

Featured speaker Jamie Critelli described the rewards of entering farming after serving in the military. Critelli  touched on the unique skill sets of veterans that compliment farming, highlighted the challenges of reintegration into communities and outlined basic strategies to improve support of veterans who want to start farming.

Following the morning presentations, attendees  participated in two of four ‘working groups’ to engage in facilitated discussion around the following topics:

  • Veterans Starting Farms
  • Veterans Employed on Farms
  • Communication and Outreach Strategies to reach NY Veterans
  • Training for Service Providers

These working group discussions generated information to build the foundation for a NYS Work Plan for Veterans in Agriculture and a NY Veterans in Agriculture Task Force.  To read summaries of the discussions, click here.

Dean Koyanagi

Dean came to the Small Farms Program in 2015 to work with fellow veterans interested in agriculture. He and his wife have been farming in Ithaca for the past 10 years, and he is excited to share the experience of learning to farm with others. Dean continues to support a statewide effort to work with extension, veteran’s organizations, and our veteran farming community to support veterans in achieving their agricultural goals.
Posted in