SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) in coordination with Farmer Veteran Coalition of Illinois (FVC) is proud to host a Veteran’s Day reception Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. The reception will take place in the Expo Hall on the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds and is open to all veterans. The event will promote IDOA’s Homegrown by Heroes Program and give veterans an opportunity to find out how they can participate in the program.
“As a veteran myself, our Home Grown by Heroes program is something that is near and dear to my heart,” said IDOA Director Jerry Costello. “We want to help our service men and women in the agriculture industry in any way possible. Highlighting products grown by our veterans will not only help to grow the agriculture industry but give our service men and women the boost they need to grow their second career.”
Homegrown by Heroes is a free program for Illinois veterans. To be eligible, veterans 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 to identify and market Illinois grown and 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 organizations, such as the Illinois Farm Bureau, FVC, Illinois National Guard, Illinois Veterans Affairs, and statewide Farmer Veterans Program, training and education also are components of the initiative, making 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.
Illinois veterans who produce, process or package products in Illinois may also qualify for other business development programs and services. Additional programs and services include Specialty Crop Grants, trade show assistance, and export assistance. Please contact the IDOA Marketing Department to find out which program or service is right for your business.
For more information on how to become a part of the Illinois Homegrown by Heroes Program visit www.agr.state.il.us/hbh.
— Illinois Department of Agriculture