As a way to increase opportunities for veterans and active duty service members, and to also ensure citizens can more easily recognize the service of those men and women who have defending our nation, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is aiding veterans or current active duty service members who are interested in a second career in our state’s number one industry: agriculture.
Illinois’ Homegrown by Heroes program allows Illinois farmers, ranchers, fishermen and producers who have served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military to use a special logo on the agricultural products they sell to the public. This special designation sets these farmers apart in the market, allowing these heroes' products to be visible to consumers while giving them the chance to tell their story.
The Homegrown by Heroes program is a free program for Illinois veterans, with an annual renewal. To be eligible for the program, the veteran must provide proof of service, a letter of support from their commanding officer or a designated representative, and must maintain 50-percent or greater ownership in the business/operation.
For those who qualify, the Homegrown by Heroes Illinois Product logo can be used it to identify and market their Illinois grown and Illinois made products on packaging, signage, websites and social media or wherever their items are being sold.
Thanks to the Department’s partnership with various agencies and organization, such as Illinois Farm Bureau, Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), Illinois National Guard, and Illinois Veterans Affairs, training and education also are components of the initiative, which will make informational resources available to veterans desiring to farm in the state. These programs will:
· Develop mentorships between experienced farmers and veterans;
· Identify community land access that benefits beginning farmers and saves municipalities’ maintenance costs;
· Locate farmers' market opportunities and partnerships;
· Assist veterans in developing value-added products;
· Foster relationships with retailers and food service organizations.
How to Apply:
o Step 1: Register with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC)
Apply for FVC Membership;
Register with FVC Homegrown by Heroes
o Step 2: Register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture
Complete the Homegrown By Heroes Products Logo Application
Veterans can provide their certificate or certification letter from Farmer Veteran
Coalition to the IDOA as verification that they have been certified as a veteran to use the HBH label.
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