Community & Culture

Remembering Those Who Serve

We salute veterans and the value they bring to American agriculture.

Each November, American service families are honored and recognized for their commitment and contributions to our nation during National Veterans and Military Families MonthSyngenta celebrates the contributions our military members have made to agriculture — and the opportunity for veterans to help feed a growing global population.

In the last  Census of Agriculture, the USDA collected information about agricultural producers who served, or are currently serving, in the U.S. Armed Forces. They found that more than 370,000 producers — 11% of the country’s total — had military service.

Celebrating Diversity and Service
Brandon Bell, Syngenta people and organizational development lead, says that diversity plays an important role in U.S. agriculture.

“While only a small segment of society still works in production agriculture, everyone benefits from what farmers produce,” says Bell, who grew up in a small eastern North Carolina community. “When we strive for fairness, representation and inclusion in agriculture, we can better understand and best serve the needs of those who depend on what we grow.”

In addition to his rural roots, Bell’s family has strong agriculture and military ties. While his father was a USDA poultry inspector, his mother is a civilian Naval nurse at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where his sister also works as a dental hygienist. His brother is a signal officer with the U.S. Army.

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I can think of no organization more mission-driven than the military. If you’re looking for people who can align their personal purpose with the values of an agricultural organization, the U.S. military is second-to-none.

Brandon Bell People and Organizational Development Lead,
Syngenta

Transferable Skills
According to Bell, amongst the highest priorities of active-duty military personnel is to protect and serve our country. But they have other day-to-day responsibilities that are highly transferable to civilian life and the ag industry.

“While my brother is trained to fight, his role as a signal officer has helped him develop strong project management, information technology and leadership skills,” Bell says. Without thoughtful consideration, we may not always be aware that military personnel have the highly developed expertise they use every day.”

Bell adds that there are strong parallels between the military and agriculture. For example, consider the operational support the military provides to ensure its workforce has the tools they require to accomplish their mission; compare that to the role crop protection companies play in supplying farmers with what they need to achieve higher yields. The need for high operational efficiency and strong production and supply methodologies are commonalities between the two, and great examples of the type of skills military personnel can bring with them to careers in ag.

“I can think of no organization more mission-driven than the military,” Bell says. “If you’re looking for people who can align their personal purpose with the values of an agricultural organization, the U.S. military is second-to-none.”

November 2023 | BY BRAD BREMER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY GETTY IMAGES, SARAH EIKMEIER
ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS
  • November is National Veterans and Military Families Month.
  • ED&I practices enable agriculture to serve an increasingly more diverse consumer base.
  • Veterans have skills that are highly transferable to society and agriculture.