LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas military veterans who farm will be able to affix a "Homegrown by Heroes" label to their produce under a new program announced Thursday by the state Agriculture Department and the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas military veterans who farm will be able to affix a "Homegrown by Heroes" label to their produce under a new program announced Thursday by the state Agriculture Department and the state Department of Veterans Affairs.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined state Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward and state Department of Veterans Affairs Director Matt Snead for a ceremony at the state Capitol to unveil the new label, which also includes the words "Arkansas Grown."


Ward said the Agriculture Department’s existing Arkansas Grown program, which provides a label farmers can use to show their produce was grown in Arkansas, is adding the new label for Arkansas veterans who farm in the hope that it will attract more veterans into agriculture, the state’s biggest industry.


Ward said that with the world population expected to increase from 7 billion now to 9 billion by 2050, the demand for food will grow significantly — yet there is a shortage of people going into agriculture, and the average age of farmers is rising.


"Our service members are well trained and well positioned to help answer some of those challenges and meet the demands for the future," he said.


Snead, a lieutenant colonel in the Arkansas National Guard, said there are 250,000 veterans in Arkansas. He said the "Homegrown by Heroes" label will benefit veterans who not only served their country but came back to Arkansas to be "a valuable part of our work force."


Hutchinson said the program is "a great opportunity really to combine two things that our so important to our state — agriculture and our remembrance and recognition of the service of our veterans. So I applaud the agencies for doing this."


The governor said his father served in World War II and started a farm in Gravette.


"As we took our products to market it sure would have been nice to have the label ‘Homegrown by Heroes,’" he said.


The "Homegrown by Heroes" program started in Kentucky and was expanded nationwide by the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Arkansas farmers can apply by contacting the state Agriculture Department.