Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding speaks at a press conference, which highlighted recent support for veteran farmers through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill and support for veterans seeking entry into the industry through the Agricultural Business Development Center, at Sinking Creek Meats in Spring Mills Wednesday, November 10, 2021. Homegrown By Heroes is an initiative for veterans to build brand recognition so that consumers can easily identify and support veteran-owned businesses. Pennsylvania is home to more than 7,000 military veterans identified as agricultural producers.
Pennsylvania – On Veterans Day, Pennsylvania marks how, after veterans return from service, some of them choose to go into farming and other farming fields.
Since 2015, Pennsylvania has invested more than $ 3 million to support Commonwealth Farmer Veterans who protect and cultivate the land, feed communities and fuel prosperity.
The Department of Agriculture now has a veteran who heads part of the department, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which encourages veterans to get into farming and encourages consumers to buy products that support our vets.
Part of that is the PA Homegrown by Heroes initiative, which labels products made in part by veterans.
Spring Mills, Pennsylvania – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Affairs Deputy Adjutant General Brigadier General (PA) Maureen Weigl visited Sinking Creek Meats, a veterans owned cattle farm and PA Preferred® Member of Homegrown By Heroes in Center County. The tour was Redding’s fourth stop on his state Supply PA fuels to visit.
Since 2015, Governor Tom Wolf has invested more than $ 3 million to support Commonwealth Farmer Veterans who protect and cultivate the land, feed communities and fuel prosperity.
“As we honor Veterans Day, we say thank you to those servicemen who have selflessly served our country,” said Secretary Redding. “Farming veterans are unique in protecting and nurturing the people and places we call home. Supporting seasoned farmers through the Homegrown By Heroes program is a small way to give back to a community that has given us so much.
Chris Ishler, fifth generation farmer and part owner of Sinking Creek Meats, is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran who served as an Army mechanic from 2001 to 2009. In 2019, Ishler and his partner Eliza Walton created Sinking Creek Meats to provide their community with locally raised Angus beef through direct-to-consumer sales.
In the United States, less than two percent of the population are farmers and less than seven percent served in the military. According to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture, Pennsylvania is home to more than 7,000 military veterans identified as agricultural producers.
“There is a strong connection between the military and agriculture when you consider that the military and farmers are determined to serve their communities and our country,” said the brigadier. General (PA) Maureen Weigl, Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans. “We are grateful to Secretary Redding and the Wolf Administration for investing in the Homegrown By Heroes program and for recognizing the contributions of veterans to the Pennsylvania agriculture industry.”
The PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program is a veterans initiative coordinated by the Farmer Veteran Coalition to build brand awareness. By searching for the Homegrown By Heroes logo, consumers can easily identify and support veteran-owned businesses. Since Governor Wolf signed the Pennsylvania Farm Bill in 2019, $ 3 million has been invested in the PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program to increase membership, improve consumer brand awareness and provide services to farmers. -old members to improve marketing and business growth.
“Homegrown By Heroes is a fantastic support network for seasoned farmers in agriculture,” Ishler said. “In addition to the product differentiation provided by the PA Preferred and Homegrown By Heroes labels, the program supports farmers by connecting them to valuable resources, grants, opportunities and other farming veterans. There are so many programs available to help young farmers or beginning farmers that it can be difficult to know where to start. We strongly recommend that you contact the Ministry of Agriculture first! “
“We have a solemn obligation to support veteran-owned businesses and give them the tools they need to thrive,” said Senate Pro Tempore President Jake Corman. “Sinking Creek Meats is a real success story with almost 60 years of business in central Pennsylvania. I am grateful that Secretary Redding chose this location to highlight how the Homegrown by Heroes program supports the men and women who have served our great nation in the military.
In addition to the $ 3 million in support to farmers and veterans, the PA Farm Bill also established the Agricultural Business Development Center (ABDC) which has committed $ 2 million to provide financial and technical expertise and support. for business planning, agricultural transitions, expansion and diversification. of agricultural production through the Farm Vitality Planning Grant program.
Earlier this year, ABDC hosted a series of free webinars in partnership with the Penn State Small Business Development Center for PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes members and veteran farmers, introducing participants to opportunities and services in agriculture.
In 2020, the PA Ministry of Agriculture created a post of Military Veterans Coordinator in recognition of the many opportunities in agriculture for veterans with valuable transferable skills. Joshua Scheinberg, Ph.D. serves in this role. A US Air Force veteran, Scheinberg has spent nearly 10 years working in food safety and technical support for the small meat processing and food industry. In his role, Scheinberg builds awareness, support and engagement with veterans of the farming community.
“I am honored and grateful to be able to help lead the ministry’s veterans in agriculture initiative,” Scheinberg said. “Whether it’s a new career, a form of therapy or a hobby, farming continues to play an important role in the lives of thousands of Pennsylvania veterans. I look forward to continuing our work of growing and expanding ministry outreach, programs and technical support to veterans of agriculture.
If you are a veteran or an organization engaged in farming or farming initiatives, contact Joshua Scheinberg, Military Veterans Coordinator, at [email protected] or 717-919-0377.