Volunteers come to injured farmers' rescue

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2009 5:25 AM

A broken pelvis and injured knee nearly put an end to North Dakota farmer Dustin Lien's harvest, but a group that helps injured farmers and the families of those who have died came to his aid.

Farm Rescue sent volunteers to help bring in Lien's soybeans after he was crushed between a tractor and a pickup in July.

"We don't know where we'd be without them," said Lien, one of 35 family farmers helped by the group this year. "Probably with beans under snow."

Farm Rescue has come to the aid of 100 farm families in just four years _ a number that surprises even its founder.

"I knew it would happen," founder and president Bill Gross said. "I just didn't think it would come this quickly. If we didn't have the volunteers and the sponsors, it wouldn't happen at all."

Farm Rescue helps plant and harvest small grains and soybeans on family farms affected by an injury or death. Volunteers are still working on two farms but expect to finish the fall harvest by mid-month. Applications for help with spring planting will be accepted from Jan. 1 to March 15.

Lien of Ypsilanti said he had expected to be back in his cab by harvest time.

"Then, the day before the application to Farm Rescue was due, a specialist told me I wouldn't be farming for four to six months," he said. "We filled out the forms pretty quickly."

Neighbors had helped Lien and his wife, Lucinda, harvest their small grains earlier in the fall. But the couple didn't think they could impose again.

"Right now, all the farmers around here are harvesting soybeans," Lien said. "You can't ask a neighbor to stop his harvest to help you."

The Liens' application was one of 85 applications Farm Rescue received for work this year. It was able to help 35 _ one less than last year.

"With economic times, funding is down a bit," said Gross, whose group covers volunteers' meals and lodging. "And this has been a bad harvest season due to the weather. Our expenses are up as well."

Next year, he said, the groups to help as many farmers or more.

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On the Net:

Farm Rescue: http://www.farmrescue.org.

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Information from: The Jamestown Sun, http://www.jamestownsun.com