Just in time for Memorial Day, the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) announced the national launch of the Homegrown by Heroes Initiative. It’s a product labeling program that complements the FVC’s work to help veterans of all eras be successful farmers and ranchers. The Homegrown by Heroes label will appear on agricultural products raised by those who have honorably served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Consumers can then choose to purchase products to support farmer veterans.
The program was created by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture with the hope that it would become a national partnership. At the event announcing the partnership with FVC, Kentucky’s Agricultural Commissioner, James Comer said, “With this initiative, we can give something back to those who have given so much in defense of our country.”
Mark and Denise Beyers are the first certified Homegrown By Heroes producers outside of Kentucky. The high school sweethearts entered the Marine Corps in 1998 and 1999, respectively. While serving in Iraq in 2005, Mark’s team hit an improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in combat injuries that led to the loss of his right arm and right leg. Upon returning from service overseas, Mark and Denise built a thriving maple syrup business on their 15-acre property in upstate New York. The couple will use the Homegrown By Heroes label to help sell the maple syrup they produce on their farm as well as eggs and vegetables they will market in the summer. Check out their website here.
According to FVC, only 16 percent of America’s population lives in rural areas, yet 40% of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military come from those rural communities. The organization says, “At a time when Post-9/11 veterans are experiencing a 9% unemployment rate, agriculture can be a meaningful solution for eternal returning home and looking to provide for their families.” In addition to promoting the Homegrown by Heroes initiative, FVC mission includes “cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities.” Services offered by FVC to help veterans include mentoring and farming fellowships, career services, and assistance assessing and reducing risks in production, marketing and finances.
If you are a veteran or are currently serving, and have a 50% owner and/or operator interest in a farm business, you are eligible for the Homegrown by Heroes label, and can apply for it here. You can learn more about other services provided by the Farmer Veteran Coalition at their website.