166,000 People: That's How Many These Rescuers Helped Feed
Farm Rescue helps farmers in their darkest hour
When something bad happens to a farmer and they can’t work, who tends to their crops? Who helps ensure everything is planted or harvested? Since 2005, Farm Rescue, a nonprofit based near Fargo, North Dakota, has provided that answer. Organizing volunteers to get the work done.
The average U.S. farm can feed 166 people — that means the families assisted through Farm Rescue are able to feed 166,000 people annually. With the help of John Deere dealers and John Deere, which provides nearly all of Farm Rescue’s equipment, the organization has expanded throughout much of the Midwest.
Recently, Farm Rescue completed it’s 1,000th rescue. Here are four short stories about those they’ve helped.
In the spring of 2023, the Pifer farmstead near Palestine, Illinois, was decimated by an EF3 tornado, which destroyed buildings, grain storage, and equipment. The family’s home was damaged beyond repair.
Additionally, the Pifers' machinery was heavily damaged, so they asked Farm Rescue for help. In June 2023, Farm Rescue volunteers went to the Pifer farm with equipment to help bring in the family’s winter wheat. It was the organization’s 1,000th rescue.
“It was a big help to know Farm Rescue was there to come plant some of our crops if we needed to and with the wheat harvest,” Brad Pifer said. “The fact that it’s volunteers that know how to run the equipment (Farm Rescue) would be bringing. There is expertise there.”
North Dakota farmer Larry Leier has two children who suffer from Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare progressive nervous system disorder.
Farm Rescue volunteers came twice to the Leier farm to tend the family’s crops while Larry was supporting his family. He was so appreciative of the help that he’s since paid it forward by becoming a Farm Rescue volunteer.
"At the time, when Farm Rescue came, probably what would have taken me two weeks they did in a couple of days," Larry recalled. "It gave us an opportunity to spend more time with and take care of the two children who were needing a lot of care."
When Staci Klemetson was diagnosed with cancer and began a lengthy battle with the disease, her husband Matt Klemetson put farming aside to devote time to her care and their five children.
Farm Rescue volunteers went to the family’s Minnesota farm to help. They planted the crops while the family was away, helping to ensure the work was done.
“When they planted our corn, I wasn’t able to be here that day, but a lot of people from the neighborhood and our church were here,” Matt said. “They talked very highly of the volunteers and how they were very caring and concerned about what was going on with my wife’s illness … and just had a genuine interest in wanting to help.”
Ron Behm suffered serious leg injuries during a cattle-herding incident on his North Dakota farm. He spent several days in the hospital and had to undergo weeks of recovery.
Four Farm Rescue volunteers came to the farm to help the Behms. Retired farmers who knew what they were doing and got the job done.
“You don’t realize (until) the biggest effort for you is getting out of bed into a wheelchair, you don’t realize how important it is for somebody to be there to give you a little helping hand when you are down and out,” Ron said. “I never dreamed that I’d be in these straights, but it’s good that we got somebody that you can call on.”