- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - A western Illinois man who uses the state agriculture department’s “Homegrown by Heroes” logo on his products says it’s a way of honoring his late father.

Jim Altenhein, a veteran of the Illinois National Guard for more than 20 years, returned home to Altenhein Farms after his father died about two years ago, The Quincy Herald-Whig (https://bit.ly/2fVIo8l) reported.

Altenhein then discovered the Homegrown by Heroes program, a broader program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Agriculture that allows farmers, ranchers and fishermen who have served in the military to use a special emblem on agricultural products they sell to the public.

“What I like about this program is the dual-role status it gives,” Altenhein said. “Not only did you serve your country, but when you get into agriculture, you are also feeding the troops and playing a role in this country.”

Altenhein’s father didn’t serve in the military, and instead stayed on his farm producing the food that fed troops. While his father said he wished he had served, Altenhein told him he served “in his own capacity.”

To sustain his family’s heritage, Altenhein has changed with the times, growing hops this season due to the microbrewing craze. But it will take three to four years before Altenhein can begin seeing benefits.

“This logo will help small farm operations, like ours, break into a market other than row-cropping,” he said. “With small agriculture, I firmly believe we are going to have to do that to try to stay afloat.”

The Homegrown by Heroes logo encourages the shift toward buying locally grown produce.

“Customers are wanting to know where their products come from,” Altenhein said. “This logo says everything about my heritage and growing up in a farm family.”

Altenhein is one of a few farmers from Illinois that use the logo. The broader program cites 550 members in 48 states.


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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