Farm Credit Hosts Capitol Hill Event to Honor Farmer Veterans, Celebrate Success of Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Homegrown By Heroes Program
Event Showcases Contributions of Farmer Veterans and Raises Awareness of Farming Opportunities for Veterans
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2015 /3BL Media/ – Farm Credit, a national network of cooperatives that support rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, is hosting an event today on Capitol Hill to showcase the contributions of farmer veterans and celebrate the success of the Homegrown By Heroes program. The event is presented by Farm Credit in collaboration with the House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R–TX–11) and Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson (D–MN–7). It will be held in the Cannon Caucus Room and feature farmer veterans and their agricultural products from across the country.
“Veterans’ contributions to our country go well beyond their actions on the field of battle,” said Chairman Conaway. “After they leave the military, they work in offices and in stores and on rigs and ranches. They start businesses and they teach our children in schools. The Homegrown By Heroes initiative supported by Farm Credit, helps veterans who are farming and ranching. We owe our veterans a debt that we can never repay. When we purchase products with the Homegrown By Heroes label, we are able to at least show our appreciation for the enormous sacrifices that they have made.”
“Our nation’s veterans have done everything asked of them and we should reciprocate by providing the tools and support they need to begin their farming operations,” said Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson. “Farming is a risky and volatile business which is why providing access to credit is one of the most important investments we can make in assisting the next generation of farmers. I’m proud to support the Homegrown By Heroes Program and our farmer veterans across the country.”
Homegrown by Heroes is a product labeling program that identifies, promotes and supports agricultural products grown and raised by U.S. veterans and those still serving in any branch of the U.S. military. The program was launched nationally by the Farmer Veteran Coalition in 2014 with funding from Farm Credit. In the last year, the program has grown to include more than 165 farmers and ranchers across 43 states comprising $15 million in annual sales, with membership nearly doubling in the last three months.
The event will feature an array of products produced by farmer veterans from across the country, highlighted by a signature grilled cheese sandwich by Calvin Riggleman, a veteran, chef, farmer and the first producer in West Virginia to use the Homegrown By Heroes label.
“As the first producer in West Virginia to use the Homegrown By Heroes label, I know first-hand how valuable this program is to my success,” said Riggleman. “I’ve been able to take my business to the next level with valuable advice that has helped strengthen my business, my numbers and my growth plan. I first envisioned my plans while I was in the Marine Corps in Iraq, advising my parents about planting, harvesting and selling from overseas. Since my return, I’ve worked with Farm Credit of the Virginias to expand my fruit operation to include a distillery. The support of Farm Credit and the Farmer Veteran Coalition has been a life-changer for me.”
The Farmer Veteran Coalition recognizes the commitment of rural Americans to military service with the goal of developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. Veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities, and food production offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefits to those veterans. At a time when Post-9/11 veterans are experiencing a 7.2 percent unemployment rate (compared to the national average of 5.4 percent), agriculture can be a meaningful solution for veterans returning home and looking to provide for their families. The Homegrown By Heroes label affords consumers the opportunity to thank a veteran for their service by purchasing their farm products.
“Farm Credit’s support of farmer veterans is a way for us to honor our nation’s farmer veterans with programs that will help get them on the path to success after returning home from serving our country,” said Gary Matteson, vice president of young, beginning and small farmer outreach for the Farm Credit Council and Board Member for the Farmer Veteran Coalition. “Farm Credit is committed to reaching out to returning veterans through veteran resource groups to highlight farming as an admirable, sustainable vocation, and serve them through lending programs and advisory services that support beginning farmers.”
Farm Credit is committed to supporting farmer veterans through organizations such as the Farmer Veteran Coalition and programs like Homegrown By Heroes. In addition, many local Farm Credit associations also offer an array of education, training and mentoring programs to assist farmer veterans, including:
- AgSouth – Offers AGAware, a program designed to promote and educate the next generation of young, beginning and small farmers, and participates in local Veteran Job Fairs
- Farm Credit East – FarmStart assists beginning farmers and new cooperatives through their startup years by providing equity investments of up to $50,000 to get their business off the ground
- Farm Credit West – A veteran coordinator provides guidance and volunteer expertise to the Farmer Veteran Coalition on grant programs
- Badgerland Financial – An Emerging Markets Specialist works with veterans and also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Farmer Veteran Coalition
- Farm Credit of the Virginias – Ag Biz Planner program enhances financial and business management skills
- For more information about programs in your area contact your local Farm Credit organization
About The Farmer Veteran Coalition
The Farmer Veteran Coalition serves military veterans of all eras and branches, though a majority of its veterans are from the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, interested in the agriculture industry. It works with veterans, their families, employers and mentors to support those returning to or beginning careers in food and farming.
About Farm Credit
Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Farm Credit has been fulfilling its mission of helping these areas grow and thrive for a century by providing farmers with the capital they need to make their businesses successful and by financing vital infrastructure and communication services. Because a steady flow of capital means more jobs and economic growth, Farm Credit is able to invest in the vibrancy of communities throughout rural America. For more information about Farm Credit please visit farmcredit.com.