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Compeer Client Services

Farm Rescue Offers Help in Rural America When Needed Most

Scattered across the United States are 500 volunteers ready and willing to assist fellow farmers or ranchers in their time of need. Farm Rescue, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, stands as a unique organization dedicated to aiding members of the agricultural community who face major illness, injury or natural disasters.

Currently, Farm Rescue’s assistance extends to farm and ranch families in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“We’re the only organization in the country doing something like this,” said Ben Smith, field operations manager for Farm Rescue. “We provide in-field and hands-on support to farm families during their most critical moments. We dispatch labor and machinery directly to their fields, ensuring farmwork is completed professionally and promptly so the family doesn’t suffer undue hardship due to crises and their business doesn’t suffer.”

Pilot Bill Gross, a native of North Dakota, founded Farm Rescue in 2005. Driven by a desire to give back to the agricultural community, Gross aimed to assist farm families facing a major illness or injury in planting, tending to or harvesting their crops.

Support for Farmers in Rural America

John Thomas, a Compeer Financial client near Dundas, Minn., is one of the 1,000 farm and ranch families Farm Rescue has assisted since its inception. In July 2023, Thomas underwent a second leg amputation, 12 years after his first. Recognizing the challenges ahead, Thomas’ wife Judy sought assistance from Farm Rescue for the harvest season.

“Having Farm Rescue really helped speed up the process,” Thomas said. “A lot of people in my area were intrigued by what was going on when Farm Rescue was here.”

Volunteers like Mitch Krause dedicated nearly two weeks to helping the Thomas family harvest their bean and corn crops.

“I’m sure that for these farmers, knowing an organization exists to aid and support them is a big load off their shoulders,” Krause said.

As a nonprofit, Farm Rescue relies on donations, like the one they received from Compeer in 2023, to fund all activities.

“Every donation enables us to not only serve our current areas, but helps in furthering our goal of expanding our reach to offer assistance wherever our machinery and farming expertise is needed,” Smith explained. “Operating costs have steadily risen at Farm Rescue, and farming is no different.”

Faced with escalating machinery costs and increased expenses for lodging, meals, insurance and fuel, Farm Rescue diligently pursues additional funding through support and sponsorships.

Closing the Gap

The organization also serves to break the stigma of asking for help.

“Seventy percent of our requests originate from individuals reaching out on behalf of the farmer because the farmer was hesitant to seek aid,” Smith noted. “Farmers are known for their pride and self-reliance, but it’s crucial to understand the importance of community support. We aim to prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks because they didn’t know help was available.”

Reflecting on his experience, Thomas emphasized Farm Rescue’s user-friendly application process, noting his neighbors’ newfound interest in the organization’s work. He was able to share more about his experience with Farm Rescue with his neighbors when they stopped over during the multi-week volunteer effort.

“My main advice is to embrace this valuable resource without reservation,” Thomas concluded.

Learn more about Compeer’s efforts to support farmers and rural communities.

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