When Tracy Robinson was 17 years old, he received a phone call from a Marine Corp recruiter. The recruiter asked Robinson what he wanted to do after he finished high school.
“I want to be a farmer,” Robinson said at the time.
The recruiter said he had just what Robinson was looking for: ‘Field artillery.’
“I said, ‘Sign me up.’ Only thing I heard was field,’” Robinson said.
After boot camp, Robinson asked his instructor where his tractor was, “because I signed up to be a farmer. He told me I wasn’t going to be a farmer. I was going to be shooting bombs down range.”
Robinson stayed in service to the country anyway. Retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Tracy Robinson served 24 years in the Marines with seven combat tours, including deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Shield. He received the rank of E9, one of the highest enlisted ranks. In the Marine Corp, he traveled to dozens of countries.
More than a decade ago, he came back home to south Georgia and picked back up on the plan he set aside after high school. He still wanted to be a farmer.
It hasn’t been easy, but he says he’s been blessed.
He got started farming by renting a bit of land outside Blakely, Ga., land his family rented when he was a child. He tried to get an FSA loan a decade ago but was turned down. At the time, he lacked the experience to meet the loan process requirements.
He said friends and family stepped in. He was able to keep farming by working their land and gaining the experience. He learned better how to manage land and the newer technologies. In return, the friends and family loaned him their equipment to work his rented land.
“I’ve been farming for more than seven years. I didn’t own or lease a piece of equipment. People say, ‘Hey, how do you do that?’ I do it because I have friends who took care of me,” he said.
Because of his previous military experience and service to the country, in 2013 he qualified for an FSA microloan, which the agency started to offer then with a shorter application process to assist small and beginning farmers.
He now farms his own 500 acres of peanuts, cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat. Up until this year, he still worked his land without owning or leasing his own equipment.
Earlier this year, Robinson received a one-year lease of a Kubota M8 series tractor, part of the company’s ‘Geared to Give’ program in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The company recognized the equipment lease and Robinson’s service during a ceremony on a pleasant sunny morning in October at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.
“We are committed to powering and empowering those who move the earth. And we're happy to empower retired veteran Tracy Robinson with the tools he needs to expand his farm operations,” said John Sargeant, a senior division manager for Kubota
“This is the first piece of equipment I have had the pleasure of using whenever I get ready or need it. And I can tell you right now, this tractor is not going back to Kubota. I will be purchasing this tractor. After my one-year lease up, I’ll own it,” Robinson said.