TULARE, Calif. — Kubota Tractor Corp. announced its first 2016 recipient of a donated tractor in its “Geared To Give” program. Julie Hollars of Farbotnik Farm in Vallecito in Calaveras County was recognized in a special ceremony today as the first female farmer veteran to receive a donated Kubota L-Series compact tractor through the program, which launched early last year in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). The program provides financial support and donated Kubota equipment to U.S. military veterans pursuing a future in farming.
When told by phone that she had been selected as this quarter’s Geared to Give recipient, Hollars exclaimed, “Most girls want diamonds and nice cars, all I want is a tractor!” She further explained that the equipment currently in use on the farm is 20 or more years old, so a new tractor will help her family realize their dream of mechanizing some of the work they have been doing by hand for years. The farm currently produces fruit and nut trees including peach, pear, plum, pomegranate, persimmon, cherry, walnut, almond and pecan, along with apples, berries, figs, and Vallecito Wax peppers.
“Through our partnership with FVC, we are investing in the future of farming by making a difference in the lives of farmers who give back to their local communities where our valued customers and dealers live and work,” said Tom Sieper, Kubota Tractor Corp. Senior Director and Western Division Manager, who was on hand at today’s ceremony. “Julie does her part by working the land to help her family and her local community thrive, and we are thrilled that she is here today to mark the first 2016 donation of a Kubota L-Series tractor, proudly built here in the U.S.”
Hollars enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1988 and served 20 years in various roles, beginning as an Aviation Machinist Mate for SH-60 Helicopters. Her career led her to be among the first women allowed onto an aircraft carrier, where she was deployed to the USS Abraham Lincoln during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008, a disability forced Julie to retire from service where she had achieved status as a Chief Petty Officer. She returned to the family farm to raise her daughter and continue the family farming business, and today Julie provides her products to local supermarkets, organic markets, and farmers markets in the summer months.
“As a member of FVC’s fellowship program, we have watched Julie’s farm grow over the years and today we couldn’t be more proud of her efforts,” said Michael O'Gorman, executive director of FVC. “Julie is exactly the type of farmer veteran our organization helps to serve – she’s a fifth-generation farmer with a passion to grow her family-owned business into a thriving success and just needs a little help to do so. We are honored that Julie is our first female ‘Geared to Give’ recipient.”
Hollars’ L-Series will also be equipped with an E60 tiller, made possible by a donation from Big Valley Tractor in Stockton, Calif., and its supplier Gearmore. “As Julie’s hometown dealer, the team at Big Valley Tractor is humbled to be part of this important tractor delivery because we know that it will help further grow Farbotnik Farms and enable Julie and her family to continue farming successfully,” said Brian Lagorio, sales manager at Big Valley Tractor.
In addition, a Kubota-orange canopy, which will help shield Hollars from the elements while operating her tractor, was donated by Firebird Products, a Kubota supplier for aftermarket accessories. “We are proud of our veterans,” said Keith Robinson, owner of Firebird Products. “We are thankful for a partnership with a company such as Kubota that enables us to support such a worthy cause.”
Based in Davis, Calif., FVC is cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and developing viable employment opportunities and meaningful careers for veterans through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. FVC believes that food production offers purpose and opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits for all veterans. FVC works with veterans from all military branches, their families, employers and mentors to support those returning to or beginning careers in food and farming.
Farmer veterans like Hollars can apply to the FVC Fellowship Fund in order to be considered for donated Kubota equipment through the “Geared to Give” program. Kubota has selected its Standard L-Series compact tractors for this program, as their versatility and efficiency are ideal for meeting the varying needs of many small- and medium-sized farming operations. For more information about the “Geared to Give” program, visit www.kubotacares.com. To learn more about FVC, visit www.farmvetco.org.
Left to right: Tom Sieper, Kubota Sr. Director and Western Div. Mgr.; Julie Hollars, U.S. Navy farmer veteran and owner Farbotnik Farm; Brian Lagorio, sales manager, Big Valley Tractor; John Ryan, Kubota business development manager and USMC (Ret.); Michael O'Gorman, executive director, FVC.