As Farmer Veteran Coalition builds capacity to serve its members better, Army Veteran Richard Creppel joins the staff as its first regional coordinator.
The Louisiana native and 20-year Veteran began in January serving the FVC’s Delta Region, which is made up of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
As coordinator he will help Veterans interested in going into agriculture get the training and support they need to start farms and ranches. That includes learning to use VA benefits, as well as USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) grants, and conservation practices.
“Part of my main goal is to help Veterans find an outlet in agriculture,” he said. “I believe agriculture has a great healing benefit for military service members. The agriculture community provides a strong camaraderie; much like one found in the military service.”
The regional coordinator position is funded by FVC and NRCS. FVC Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo said the new position will be a great benefit to farmers and Veterans as he will provide outreach, education, application assistance, case management.
“For over fifteen years the Farmer Veteran Coalition has valued and fostered our relationship with the Natural Resources Conservation Service,” she said. “In recent years we have conducted grant work with several state conservationists on outreach and education with our beginning farmers and ranchers.
“With Louisiana we have crafted a dynamic agreement that will assist our Farmer Veterans with accessing NRCS programs, while supporting the goals of our state chapters and identifying Veteran and agricultural resources in our Delta Region. It is my hope that this agreement can be duplicated for the remaining nine regions that FVC has across the United States and its territories.”
Richard grew up around New Orleans and joined the Army in November 2000. He left Louisiana during his military service, returned home following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and in 2013 started at Fort Polk.
After 12 years in the Army and then eight years active duty in the National Guard, he recently retired from Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, as an engineer and a Sergeant 1st Class. Previous stops for Richard were at Fort Polk (now Fort Johnson), Fort Bragg (now Fort Liberty) and Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos).
Richard entered the agriculture world three years ago by growing industrial hemp. He and wife Angelica also raise sheep, goats and a variety of crops.
Involvement in industrial hemp has grown greatly in Louisiana in recent years, he said, and farming helps him deal with his own stressors.
Richard and his wife have been married since 2010 and have a blended family, with children ranging in age from 8 to 22. Two are in college and three are in high school, which keeps the family busy with their activities.
He also is a member of the United Houma Nation, a Native American tribe recognized by the State of Louisiana since 1972.
Among his hobbies are tending a personal garden, and running and working out.
“I really hope to help the returning soldiers who are transitioning (to civilian life) get the information they need to explore going into farming,” he said.