A farmer falls ill with cancer and is unable to plant, another is unable to harvest because his wife is in the hospital with a serious injury. Where do they go for help?
Since 2005, Farm Rescue, a nonprofit based near Fargo, North Dakota, is where more and more farmers go when they need help most. With help from volunteers, Farm Rescue assists with planting, haying, harvesting and livestock feeding for farm and ranch families.
The organization was founded by Bill Gross, who came from a farming family and knew firsthand how farmers have to navigate natural disasters, sickness, economic uncertainty and more. Now Farm Rescue gives U.S. farmers the extra hands they need to ensure that farms can continue operations for years to come.
I saw over the years that there were fewer and fewer children staying on the farm and it was harder for neighbors to help one another," Gross explained. "I just felt there should be someone to help these hard-working farm families.
With help from John Deere dealers and John Deere, which now provides all the organization's equipment, Farm Rescue has expanded throughout much of the Midwest. John Deere's employees also serve as volunteers. Jon Harvey, operations manager at John Deere Seeding Group in Valley City, North Dakota, sees it as his opportunity to help farmers who give so much to their communities.
"These are the people that pay my salary," Harvey said. "Things happen in their lives, too, where they need help. And the farming community is different than most because although one farmer may be a competitor to another farmer, they'll be the first one there to help them out."
And this year in particular, because more farm families might need help, John Deere is helping Farm Rescue raise money through a live stream benefit concert titled "The Farm Must Go On by John Deere" on Dec. 9 at 8 pm EDT.
We were asking ourselves 'how do we raise awareness to this hidden gem and do so in a way that would inspire others to give, volunteer or maybe seek help from Farm Rescue,'" said Nate Clark, president of the John Deere Foundation. "We knew it had to be virtual due to COVID-19, and we wanted to give people a sense of the uplifting nature of the work.
Clark said John Deere is committed to not only helping farmers through its cutting-edge equipment, but by supporting the efforts of organizations like Farm Rescue.
"Another way we help farm and ranch families is by investing in truly innovative nonprofit organizations that can provide vital resources and services, and one of those is Farm Rescue," Clark said.
Gross said that while Farm Rescue has many important partners its success would not be possible without help from John Deere and its dealerships.
"We've just been very pleased with John Deere as a partner with Farm Rescue from the very beginning, from day one," Gross said. "Their equipment has served us well and we've covered hundreds of thousands of acres with very little down time, and that's how we've been able to help 700 farm families."