SPRINGFIELD - Illinois veterans soon will have the opportunity to leverage a national branding campaign to help market their farm products.
The Illinois Farm Bureau reported that the Homegrown by Heroes initiative, a product labeling program, will allow Illinois farmers, ranchers and fishermen who have served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military to use a special logo on their agricultural products. Farmer training and education also are large components of the initiative, which will make informational resources available to veterans desiring to farm in the state.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Farm Bureau are partnering with the Farmer Veteran Coalition to bring this initiative to the state.
"We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude for their service, and this program supports them while providing needed products to consumers," Gov. Pat Quinn said.
"This program is a great opportunity for our service members. They already have such a diverse skill set and agriculture offers countless job opportunities," Agriculture Director Bob Flider added.
A stakeholder meeting was held recently at the Illinois Farm Bureau in Bloomington to officially launch the program.
Consumers and businesses purchasing agricultural products will begin to see this logo at the point-of-purchase and on business signage, enabling them to select products that support our state's farmer veterans.
"The Farmer Veteran Coalition has received applications for Homegrown by Heroes from veterans in almost every state, all types of crops and all sizes of farms," said Michael O'Gorman, executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. "We believe a partnership with the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Department of Agriculture can help us reach even more eligible veterans while informing the public about this opportunity to support them."
Only 16 percent of America's population lives in rural areas, yet 40 percent of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military come from those same rural communities. The Farmer Veteran Coalition recognizes the commitment of rural Americans to military service with the goal of developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities.
The Farm Bureau reports that with more than 744,710 veterans in Illinois, agriculture can be a meaningful solution for veterans returning home and looking for opportunities to provide for their families. The Homegrown by Heroes label will allow consumers to be able to thank a veteran for their service and support Illinois agriculture by purchasing their farm products.
"There are several farmers in Illinois who have served our country, and the launch of this important marketing tool will benefit them as well as attract veterans desiring to be farmers," said Richard Guebert Jr., president of the Farm Bureau.
A statewide steering committee is being formed to assist in implementing this program in Illinois.