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Press Release

Selfless Service for a Veteran Never Ends: Marvin Philyaw and His Farm

Marvin Philyaw stands with his herd of cattle in an open field

Veterans like Marvin Philyaw continue to serve in other meaningful ways, and this nation is forever indebted to these brave men and women. 

SMITHFIELD, N.C., November 09, 2023- Self less service is a core value in the United States military, regardless of branch of service. In the military it is defined as putting the welfare of the nation and your subordinates before your own. After a long career it becomes entrenched in a person’s identity. It would also be no surprise that someone who values selfless service would also continue to do so long after the uniform has been hung for the last time. That is exactly what Marvin Philyaw has done with his new mission, running an angus beef farm.

Marvin has been farming for three years, after spending 24 years honorably serving his country. Still, he is no stranger to agriculture, being raised on a farm with his grandfather. By the time he was 16, Marvin would be farming around 200 acres of his own. Unfortunately, in the late 1980’s the family farm was sold. It was at that time; Marvin would answer the nation’s call. Since his retirement Marvin has found another way to serve his country, going back to his first love, farming.

“It’s my way to give back, give back to people who can’t help themselves”, said Marvin Philyaw, Owner, and Operator of Buncha Heathens LLC.

Now instead of soldiers, he has 25 head of cows to manage. Each with their own personalities, and sometimes challenges. Taking an ecological approach, Marvin tries to grow his own food for his animals. He currently grows coastal, rye and pearl millet as a food source. Along with grasslands, Marvin also uses all-natural feed and hay for his animals. He has plans to expand this natural approach, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Conservation Resources Service (NRCS) Marvin is beginning to implement vital water quality conservation practices. 

In total Marvin has signed up for seven practices supported by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These practices help him responsibly provide much needed water for his animals while ensuring the surrounding bodies of water are minimally impacted by his operation. The practices are currently being planned, with the final practice being completed by 2025. The total investment of these projects is over $49,000, however the impacts by these practices are priceless. 

Marvin is in good company when it comes to veteran producers. According to the 2017 Ag census, there are over 8,000 veteran farmers right here in the state. Providing vital financial and technical assistance to these hard-working veterans is an important job for NRCS and the field staff look forward to working with each and every one. 

“Servicing producers from the veteran community that Mr. Philyaw is part of, is certainly an honor to me. I use the word honor, as individuals like him fought for the freedom and liberty that this great nation offers to people like me. He has chosen stewardship in agriculture as his next mission and I look forward to working with him and other producers in the county to make sure they have the resources needed to succeed in their conservation and farming goals”, said Lindsay Martinez, Soil Conservationist for N.C. NRCS.

Veterans in the state and across the nation continue to serve well after they hang up the uniform, veterans just like Marvin Philyaw. Marvin’s story highlights the enduring spirit of service in our proud veterans, and that it never leaves but transfers into other aspects of one’s life. 

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