Branding for farmer veterans creates awareness and differentiation
The Homegrown By Heroes label allows consumers to know that they are helping to support veterans engaged in agricultural-related endeavors.
Marketing success depends on having the right product with proper packaging in an available place properly priced and, equally important, adequately promoted. Promotion includes telling the story of how your product is different from your competition. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, as part of its Kentucky Proud marketing program, created a label that communicates to the public that veterans produced the products: Homegrown By Heroes (HBH).
This label was extended to the entire United States in 2013 and is coordinated by the Farmer Veteran Coalition. For more information, see Michigan State University Extension’s article Support for veterans transitioning to farming increases. The Homegrown By Heroes label is currently being used by more than 550 participants. Some have incorporated a state logo that helps support the “Buy Local” movement.
The Homegrown By Heroes labeling program is available to farmers, ranchers, fishermen and value-added producers that have served in any of the branches of the United States military. This brand awareness is rapidly growing and was supported by the Farm Credit Services of America with a $200,000 grant in 2016. This grant is used to promote the label and bring its use to more veteran producers.
When veterans certify their products in the Homegrown By Heroes program, they gain membership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). Benefits include free assistance from the FVC staff for food safety planning, marketing and business development. Fellowship in the farming veteran community is an additional benefit members enjoy. This helps to continue the service to our country by providing the nation with food and fiber. Additionally, local rural communities benefit from access to fresh food and economic vitality.
Michigan State University Extension educators working with the MSU Product Center provide assistance with product development, packaging, placement and pricing considerations.