The Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­eration has announced a $10,000 gift to Farm Rescue, a nonprofit organization that provides on-farm assistance to farm families who have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster.

Farm Rescue staff and volunteers greeted fairgoers at Farm Bureau Park during the Iowa State Fair last week, sharing Farm Rescue’s mission, success stories and volunteer opportunities.

“Farmers and Iowa’s rural communities are known for supporting each other and lending a helping hand during tough times,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson, a Calhoun County farmer. “Our partnership with Farm Rescue is a natural fit and aligns with the Iowa Farm Bureau mission to support farm families and their communities. We commend the organization and its volunteers for their dedication and support of farm families.”

Terry Johnston, Farm Rescue development officer, said the organization is excited to partner with Farm Bureau and visit with farmers about how it can help them overcome challenges in times of need.

“We’re so appreciative of Iowa Farm Bureau’s support, which will help connect us with a greater number of Iowa farm families that may need assistance with planting, harvesting or feeding their livestock if they are unable,” Johnston said.

Founded in 2005

North Dakota native Bill Gross founded Farm Rescue in 2005 to assist farmers who suffer hardship. 

More than 500 volunteers now provide the backbone of the organization, serving 1,000 families over the years across eight states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana and Illinois. 

Volunteers recently assisted the Clint Whetstine family in southeast Iowa with clean-up and planting after a late March tornado destroyed two of the three Whetstine family homesteads, demolished three hog units and a cattle barn, and mangled machinery.

Johnston said a Nebraska family’s machine shed burnt down not long ago, taking the equipment with it. “Their combine, their tractors, their headers … everything,” he said.

“And in the case of an injury — you know, farming is a dangerous business, and people get hurt. We planted some corn in northeast Iowa this past spring for a farmer that was kicked by one of his mama cows, tagging the calf. Something that simple.”

In Grundy County, Farm Rescue helped a farmer who had a heart attack this past winter. “We were able to help with his livestock feeding, fed his cattle, and then were able to plant some corn for him this spring,” Johnston said.

Ron Donohue of Blakesburg is a five-year volunteer with Farm Rescue who joined after he learned of the organization’s mission. Donohue says he enjoys helping others and loves agriculture and working on the farm.

“When someone has an injury, an accident or a tornado comes through, they need help quickly,” Donohue said. “It’s very rewarding to me to be a part of a family for a week and help them. You actually become part of their family.”

Volunteer effort

Donohue has assisted many farmers over the years, working mostly in the field, planting as needed.

“When there was a tornado in southeast Iowa, Farm Rescue came in and actually helped clean the field so that we could get in with the planter,” he said. “There was so much debris blown by that tornado that when we were planting, I remember looking down from the cab and I saw a baseball glove out in the middle of the field.

“You just realize how disaster hit that family and just blew everything everywhere.”

He encourages others to become involved, even if they don’t have a farm background.

For more information about volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, visit