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Published November 07, 2009, 12:00 AM

Farm Rescue’s assistance reaches many

YPSILANTI — In just four years Farm Rescue has assisted 100 farm families. It’s a fact even the founder of the organization finds hard to believe.

By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun , The Dickinson Press

YPSILANTI — In just four years Farm Rescue has assisted 100 farm families. It’s a fact even the founder of the organization finds hard to believe.

“I knew it would happen,” said Bill Gross, founder and president of the organization. “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.”

It was those sponsors and volunteers that Dustin and Lucinda Lien of Ypsilanti were most thankful for.

Dustin Lien was injured on July 21 when he was crushed between a tractor and a pickup.

“Actually, I was rolled along between them,” he said. “If you have your hands flat and put a pencil in between them and then move your hands back and forth, well, I was the pencil.”

Despite a broken pelvis and an injury to his left knee, Lien was confidant he could handle his farm chores.

“I thought I would be back in the cab for harvest,” he said. “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. We filled out the forms pretty quickly.”

By the time Farm Rescue assisted the Liens with the soybean harvest, neighbors had already helped with the small grain crop earlier this fall.

“A couple of neighbors helped and that did miracles with the small grains,” Lien said. “But right now all the farmers around here are harvesting soybeans. You can’t ask a neighbor to stop his harvest to help you.”

It’s that need that Farm Rescue fills.

“We don’t know where we’d be without them,” he said. “Probably with beans under snow.”

The Liens’ application was one of 85 applications received by Farm Rescue for planting and harvest work this year. Farm Rescue was able to assist 35 farm families.

“With economic times, funding is down a bit,” Gross said. “And this has been a bad harvest season due to the weather. Our expenses are up as well.”

Gross said the 35 farm families Farm Rescue will have helped this year is one less than in 2008. It is the first year the organization has helped less people than the year before.

“Next year, we aim to help as many as this year,” he said. “We will grow again as the economy improves.”

The harvest season for Farm Rescue should end by mid-November, when the last farms are finished.

Farm Rescue helps family farms impacted by an injury or the death of a member of the farm family. It provides assistance planting and harvesting small grains and soybeans. It will accept applications for next spring’s planting from Jan. 1 to March 15. More information is available at www.farmrescue.org.

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