Farm Rescue celebrates decade of work, honors memory of late volunteer

BURLINGTON, N.D. - What do you do when you "bet the farm" and the farm goes under?

A group founded in North Dakota steps in to save farmers who are facing a crisis.

Now, they're honoring their volunteers for their labor of love.

It was a rough year in 2009 for Burlington farmer Ronald Behm.

One of his bulls got loose, and when he tried to wrangle the animal back, it charged at his horse, and in a matter of moments, everything changed.

“And in the process he broke my leg in a couple places, broke my knee, and I got a trip to Mayo,” said Behm.

With his brother also laid up, Behm had no one to work the farm.

That's when Farm Rescue showed up at his door.

“It was a fight to get that crop in. We didn't get all the crop in, but it was sure a blessing that they showed up,” said Behm.

Behm's story is one of hundreds in the past decade, of Farm Rescue stepping in to work a farm when a farmer is hurt or battling cancer, or when Mother Nature does her worst to this year's harvest.

Now, the group is setting aside March 16th as 'Farm Rescuers Day' to honor their volunteers.

“It's a way that Farm Rescue can honor all of those people. Since 2006 more than a thousand people have come forward to help with that mission of helping a farm family in crisis,” said Shaun Sipma, with Farm Rescue.

The group is also spending the day honoring the memory of Erwin 'Smokey' Wright, who recentyly passed away.

Wright was one of the organization's first volunteers, and he helped to salvage many farms across the northern plains.

His colleagues carry his mission on.

“They think without Farm Rescue helping them, they don't know where they had been, if they'd still be in business or not. So I really feel honoring this day for Farm Rescue is really good,” said Gene Spichke, a volunteer.

“It's a way that we can dedicate an entire day or an entire segment of a narrative, so to speak, to say 'thank you,' because, without them, this doesn't work,” said Sipma.

A lifeline, when the heart of North Dakota needs it the most.

Farm Rescue is looking for volunteers and for their spring planting assistance program.

You can learn more by logging on to www.farmrescue.org.