The product labeling program will allow farmers and ranchers from all 50 states who have served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military to use the logo on their agricultural products. To qualify, they must be at least 50 percent owner or operator of a farm business.
The FVC, started by organic farm manager Michael O’Gorman in 2009, assists veterans interested in all kinds of farming to secure loans, grants, education and partnerships that help them get into the business.
“By supporting this label, we can help the veterans who are serving our country in a new way – by producing the food and fiber that feeds and clothes us all,” O’Gorman said in the announcement. “At the same time, we’re helping thousands of young veterans find a new calling in a farming community whose average age is 58 years.”
The label will allow consumers and businesses purchasing agricultural products to use their dollars to support the country’s farmer veterans, he added.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) created the Homegrown By Heroes labeling as part of its Kentucky Proud marketing program in 2013. More than 60 Kentucky farmer veterans have already registered their farms with KDA to use the Homegrown By Heroes label.
On Veterans Day last year, Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer announced a national partnership for FVC to launch the label program in all states. The national launch is due in part to a $250,000 commitment from the Farm Credit System.
FVC recognized that 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 rural communities. FVC also noted that post-9/11 veterans are experiencing a nine percent unemployment rate, compared to the national average of 6.3 percent.
“Agriculture can be a meaningful solution for veterans returning home and looking to provide for their families,” FVC stated. “The Homegrown By Heroes label will afford consumers the opportunity to thank a veteran for their service by purchasing their farm products.”
Homegrown By Heroes applications can be completed at http://www.hgbh.org.
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