The Illinois Department of agriculture has a new program called Homegrown by Heroes, which aims to help military veterans pursue careers in farming and agriculture.
Richard Guebert Jr., president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, said the initiative will include a variety of programs that pair veterans with volunteer organizations and experienced farmers.
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“Farmer training, farmer’s market opportunities and partnerships, assisting veterans in developing value-added products,” Guebert said. “It also helps veterans foster relationships with retailers and food service organizations and makes resources available for veterans wishing to farm.”
Illinois exports nearly $9 billion of agricultural products per year. Philip Nelson, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said the program brings more possibilities to the world of farming.
“We could … continue the traditions of the family farm,” said Nelson. “Introduce veterans and their new ideas and innovations and possibly even introduce a veteran to agriculture for the very first time. When the number of producers grows in this state, it grows our economy.”
Certified veterans who grow and sell produce will place “Homegrown by Heroes” stickers on their products. Applications to participate in the program are available on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website.