Local veteran farmer wins new Kubota tractor

Barbara Layton
Pictured behind the wheel of his new MX6000 Kubota tractor is Josh Nelson with his farm-hand son, Elijah, enjoying the new machine.

Jackson County’s Josh Nelson, a veteran farmer, and business owner, recently received special recognition from the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) in partnership with the Kubota Tractor Corporation.

According to their website, farmvetco.org, the mission of the Farmer Veteran Coalition is mobilizing veterans to feed America. By using guiding principles, they cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. They not only believe that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems; but also that agriculture offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefits.

As part of their 2020 “Geared to Give” program, Kubota Tractor Corporation in partnership with the FVC, recently announced five veteran farmer recipients of new Kubota equipment. Nelson was one of the five selected.

In recognition of their current and past U.S. military service and their continued service to their communities through farming, a special guest star was on hand to help Kubota and FVC honor each veteran.

Country music singer and songwriter Brantley Gilbert invited the recipients to his farm to present them with their new Kubota equipment. The hope of Kubota, FVC, and Gilbert is that it will help each recipient achieve self-sufficiency and take their farming operation to the next level.

Nelson, who has been a member of FVC since 2015, originally learned about the coalition when he was going through graduate school.

“Funny story,” he said. “I was going through graduate school to get my MBA and I had to form this company, on paper, so I formed the Patriot Bee Company. My professor, who was a Marine Corp veteran too, said, ‘Have you ever heard of Farmer Veteran Coalition?’ I said, ‘No, never heard of it.’ He pointed me to them and I submitted all the paperwork to them that I did for a grade, and got a grant for the beehives.”

In 2017, Nelson went to combat and was a member of the FVC the entire time. He said he was able to meet and get to know other veterans who were also members.

“I was flying a mission into North Syria in my deployment in ‘17, it was Independence Day and they had asked for volunteers to fly. We went in and I was watching the Kurds farm, right in the middle of all these firefights, and it just kind of moved me,” he said.

Nelson said he has always been cognizant of the food system in the United States.

“I felt it was broken and too far away from the consumer,” he said.

After his return from deployment, he and his wife Brittany began looking for a home with plenty of land to start a farm. Nelson credits Brittany with finding the farm and land that they currently live on just outside of Ripley.

In the meantime, he said he started becoming more involved in the FVC and received an invitation from their former director to attend their National FVC conference in Dallas, Texas.

“We were able to meet a lot of people and that’s where we heard about Kubota’s ‘Gear to Give’ program,” Nelson said. “Brittany said we should apply, but I said, ‘There’s no way we would be able to win that.’”

According to Nelson, hundreds of people apply for the program.

After further discussion between the couple, they decided to apply by sending in paperwork with analytics on how they could use the equipment to benefit their farm.

“Somehow God saw fit that we made it through all the finalists and won the MX6000 tractor,” Nelson said. “It’s made a huge difference.”

The Nelson family said they are so thankful to the FVC, Kubota, and Brantley Gilbert for everything they did to make it possible.

“Brantley Gilbert and the Kubota team invited me down to Brantley’s ranch,” Nelson said. “We went down and spent the day with Alex Woods, the CEO of Kubota USA, and Brantley Gilbert and his team. We had a great time riding around on his farm and talking about what he’s doing. He’s a really down to earth, awesome guy. It was good to meet a new friend.”

Nelson (middle) with his sons Sawyer (left) and Elijah (right) are excited to be able to use the new Kubota to help out on the farm.