A Kentucky Department of Agriculture program aimed at providing a unique brand for agricultural products made by farmers who served in the U.S. armed forces is expanding nationwide thanks to a financial contribution by the Farm Credit System.

Kentucky’s Homegrown by Heroes Programs goes nationalThe “Homegrown by Heroes” program, which was launched earlier in 2013, provides military veteran farmers the ability to use the program’s distinctive brand on their agricultural products to make it easier for consumers to identify their products and, thus, support U.S. armed forces. A $250,000 commitment from the Farm Credit System, announced on Veterans Day, will allow the program to launch nationwide. The contribution will specifically be used to underwrite the national rollout through the Farmer Veteran Coalition.

“Many of the men and women who serve proudly in our military come from America’s rural areas and small towns,” said Everett M. Dobrinski, board chairman for CoBank, a member of the Farm Credit System, and director for the Farm Credit Council board. “The Farm Credit System has a mission to serve rural America. By supporting the expansion of the Homegrown By Heroes effort, we hope to increase economic opportunity for those veterans who choose to return to agriculture and, in doing so, help our rural communities thrive.” 

According to Michael Lewis, the first Kentucky farmer veteran to use the Homegrown By Heroes label, the program also gives retailers a message they can get behind, helping farmer veterans expand their markets.

“In the military, veterans learn key skills like strong leadership,” said Richard Davidson, a U.S. Air Force Reserve veteran who operates an Ohio grain and cattle operation, and serves as board chair for AgriBank, a member of the Farm Credit System. "With Homegrown By Heroes, we are not only recognizing veterans for their service, but we're also helping them leverage these skills to succeed in agriculture."

Farm Credit's contribution to the Farmer Veteran Coalition's Homegrown By Heroes program was made possible by the generous support of Agribank (St. Paul, Minn.), AgFirst (Columbia, S.C.), CoBank (Denver, Colo.) and Farm Credit Bank of Texas (Austin, Texas).