The 2015 Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference brings together leaders of government, agriculture, and farmer veterans to create and extend solutions to assist US military veterans establishing their careers in agriculture.



Conference Sessions/Workshops:
November 17 – 19

Exhibit Hall:
November 17 – 18


Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street
Sacramento, CA


Click to view full Conference Agenda


Time Session
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Panel:
Forming FVC Chapters

  • Jason Foscolo
    Chief Counsel, Farmer Veteran Coalition
  • Ken DeVan
    Chairperson, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Kansas
  • Adam Ingrao
    Chairperson, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Michigan
  • Jerry Ireland
    Chairperson, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Maine
  • Jon Turner
    Chairperson, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Vermont
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch/Registration
1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Plenary Session

  • Opening Remarks:
    Secretary Karen Ross
    California Dept. of Food & Agriculture
  • Kelli Carlisle
    Founder and Director, Acta Non Verba Farmers
  • Colin Archipley
    Co-Director, Archi’s Acres VSAT
2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Speaker

  • Lanon Baccam
    Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, USDA
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Plenary Session:
Panel: Government Partners

  • Gary Matteson
    VP, Young, Beginning and Small Farmer Programs, Farm Credit Council
  • Lanon Baccam
    Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, USDA
  • Michael Bocchini
    Chief of Staff, Veterans Employment and Training Service, Department of Labor
  • Jaime Wood
    Director Policy Engagement, Veteran Business Development, Small Business Administration
  • Justin Ward
    Congressional & Public Affairs Officer, Transition to Veterans Program, Department of Defense
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Dinner on your own
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Film: Terra Firma
Panel: Women Veterans

  • Christine Anthony
    Film Director/Producer, Terra Firma
  • Owen Masterson
    Film Director/Producer, Terra Firma
  • Sonia Kendrick
    Farmer Veteran, Feed Iowa First
  • Althea Raiford
    Farmer Veteran, Gilliard Farms
  • Anna Mann
    Farmer Veteran, Chestnut Ridge Farm


Time Session
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast & Registration
9:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Plenary Session:
Farming as Healing: An in-depth look into why working the land and producing food generates an improved sense of well-being for so many military veterans

  • Jon Sherin, MD, PhD
    Chief Medical Officer, Volunteers of America
  • Capt. George Ceremuga, D.O.
    Chief, Integrative & Holistic Medicine, US Public Health Service Commission Corps
  • Karen Besterman-Dahan, PhD.
    Qualitative Core Director-Medical Anthropologist, Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, VA
  • Chris Brown
    Director, Growing Veterans
  • Col. Cindra Chastain
    Farmer Veteran Liaison, National AgrAbility Project
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Breakout session:
Employment Opportunities in Agriculture

  • Leonard Monaco
    Marine, Senior Vice President, Farm Credit West
  • Dale Huss
    Marine, General Manager, Sea Mist Farms
  • Matt Smiley
    Army, Assistant Farm Manager, Jacobs Farm
  • Johnny Council
    Army, President & CEO, Tremont Lyman
  • JD Stefani
    Navy, IT, Tremont Lyman
Breakout session:
Opportunities for Farmer Veterans in Farm to Institution Markets

  • Brian Shobe
    Government Resources Coordinator, Farmer Veteran Coalition
  • Erin McGuire
    Policy Director, National Farm to School Network
  • George Miller
    Program Manager, Food and Fuel for the Forces
  • Blake Young
    Sacramento Food Bank
Breakout session:
Mentoring New Farmers – the Farm Bureau Patriot Project

  • Morgan Slaven
    Program Assistant for Membership and Program Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Dale Bullock
    Director of Field Operations, Texas Farm Bureau
  • Ross Dunn
    Assistant Director of Public Policy, Arkansas Farm Bureau
  • Dr. Lindsay Hastings
    Director, Nebraska Human Resources Institute, University of Nebraska
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Plenary session:
Successful Farmer Veterans – Stories of Transition and Achievement

  • General Charlie Kruse
    Past President, Missouri Farm Bureau
  • Terrell Spencer
    owner/operator, Across the Creek Farm
  • Matt McCue
    partner, Shooting Star CSA
  • Joshua Eilers
    owner/operator, Ranger Cattle LLC
  • Alvina Maynard
    owner/operator, River Hill Ranch
3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Breakout session:
Ag Entrepreneurs – veterans who have launched successful agriculture businesses outside of production.

  • Michele Phannenstiel
    President/CEO, Dirigo Quality Meats
  • David Cohn
    Principal, BactiFeed
  • Justen Garrity
    President, Veteran Compost
  • Matthew Raiford
    Farmer/Chef, Gilliard Farms
  • Frank Golbeck
    Partner, Gold Coast Mead
Breakout session:

  • Dulanie Ellis
    Film Director/Producer, Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farm Fields
  • Liz Hunt
    Caregiver, Intel Dupont Community Gardens
  • Emily Emmons
    Caregiver, Ho’ola Veterans Services/Ho’ola Farm
  • Hannah Hornsberger
Breakout session:
Financing Your Farm

  • Leonard Monaco
    Loan Officer/retired, Farm Credit West
  • Justin Renfro
    Program Manager, KIVA
  • John Oosterman
    Farm Loan Chief, Farm Service Agency, USDA
  • Robert Smith
    Risk Management Agency, USDA
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Break
5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Exhibitors: Tear Down
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Offsite Dinner – Hyatt Sacramento
Distinguished Speakers

  • Alex Martin
    Kenya Team Leader, Nuru
    Agricultural work in East Africa
  • Gary Soiseth
    Mayor of Turlock, CA
    Agricultural work in Afghanistan


Time Session
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Plenary Session:
Training Beginning Farmer Veterans

  • Brent Elrod
    National Program Leader, Community & Rural Development, NIFA, USDA
  • Margo Hale
    Southeast Regional Office Director, National Center for Appropriate Technology
  • Anu Rangarajan, PhD
    Director, Cornell Small Farm Program
  • Erin Pilosi-Kimbrough
    Program Coordinator, Agriculture Workshops for Military Veterans, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Siddhartha Dasgupta, PhD
    Professor, Economics and Marketing,College of Agriculture, Food Science & Sustainable Systems, Kentucky State University
  • Maureen Thompson
    Farm Program Manager, Center for Land-based Learning
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Closing remarks


Special room rates are available for conference attendees through Hyatt. For more information, and to book your reservations, visit Hyatt’s Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference booking site.