Farm Ops

Project Lead: Dean Koyanagi, Nina Saeli

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Veterans often encounter unique obstacles when considering entering into farming. There are over 800,000 military veterans in New York State, but they exist in a dispersed population, varying from 3-15% of the total population of each county. Because they do not have a dominant presence in any one location, specialized resources are often lacking, ultimately presenting a high barrier to entering agricultural jobs and further marginalizing these veterans.

Agriculture is not directly supported by Veterans Affairs — veterans cannot use education funds for most farm training and often cannot use vocational training funds for farm-related occupations. In addition, many veterans have unique disabilities (e.g. amputations, PTSD) and training and resources need to include mechanisms to address these issues.

To enhance the resources and training available to military veterans interested in farming, Farm Ops collaborates with established Veteran and Farming groups to:

  • Create a statewide service provider network for organizations to support agriculture training for veterans
  • Implement multiple education strategies to engage and train military/ veterans who want to farm

News and Updates

2014 Veterans in Ag Summit

By Dean Koyanagi | November 15, 2014

Veterans 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…

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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.

Read Articles by Dean Koyanagi

About Nina Saeli

Nina joined the Small Farms Program in 2020 after five years of collaboration with the program as a beginning farmer.  As the newest addition to the FarmOps team, she works to support both current and future farmer-veteran programming efforts. Nina's transitioning from almost 20 years of military service into the civilian community, helps to inform the program of some of the physical, social and mention challenges veterans face. Nina's work aims to help transitioning veterans find solace in aspect of agriculture that supports that veterans health, self sustainability, community inclusion or other life goals.

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