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This autumn, like so many before it, brings an air of change and a sense of excitement in preparing the land for something new.

November is a month filled with transition, and one that gives us so many opportunities to celebrate. I find no coincidence that during this month we celebrate both our veterans and the coming together of families. For me, these two holidays are truly a celebration of heritage and of service, staying true to our roots as we honor our country and one another.

As we come together to celebrate the season of Thanksgiving, one cannot help but to reflect on the people and events that have influenced the past year. As we join at the table, I am always thankful for the achievements of Pennsylvania agriculture, and a feeling of immense gratitude to the farmers, processors and agribusinesses that have been and always will be essential. And I am grateful to the servicemen and women and their families who sacrifice a great deal to serve our country. It is humbling to recognize the few that serve so many, whether on the battlefield or in farm fields.

Farming is a natural fit for many veterans — it is a noble, hands-on career that feeds families and offers a sense of community. This continued desire to serve ensures that each year, no matter the challenge, agriculture steps up to the task at hand, ensuring food reaches tables across the commonwealth and the world.

So, I wish to take the time to recognize our veterans and their families, to thank the thousands of servicemembers who come home and choose to serve their communities through agriculture, and let you know how grateful we are to you.

We are united in providing support to those veterans who continue serving their communities through agriculture with our new farmer veteran grant program. Funded by the Wolf administration’s Pennsylvania Farm Bill, the Department of Agriculture has awarded $200,000 to two veterans’ service organizations to oversee the distribution of the funds.

The Veterans in Agriculture Grant offered by the Community Action Partnerships Inc. aims to provide capital funding to for-profit agriculture businesses owned and operated by veterans in Pennsylvania, with a focus on veteran-run farms that have been in operation for less than two years.

Force Multiplier Grants offered through the PA Veteran Farming Project seek to aid current farmer-veterans who are looking to expand their operations with the purchase of farm equipment or supplies.

In collaboration with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, we continue to celebrate our farmer-veterans through the Homegrown by Heroes program. The program allows veteran members of PA Preferred to use the Homegrown by Heroes-PA Preferred logo on their products so that consumers can easily identify and support veteran-owned businesses.

Using the brand-new PA Preferred website, Pennsylvanians can quickly find locally grown food and products made by farmer veterans.

Our world is ever-changing, but I see hope in the efforts to spread kindness and support neighbors. As we take time together with families and friends this Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and veterans who make our safety and security their responsibility.

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