WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – From illnesses and injuries to wildfires and natural disasters, farm rescuers are volunteers that give a hand to those in a challenging situation.

National Farm Rescuer Day falls on the third Thursday of March, and it was started in 2005 by Farm Rescue, a nonprofit organization.

Dan Erdman, Farm Rescue program manager, said the day is to honor the volunteers.

“We basically exist to help farm and ranch families that are going through a major crisis, whether it be injury illness or natural disaster,” said Erdmann. “We have just an incredible army of volunteers ready and willing to go help a family in a time of need whether it be through planting and harvesting, commodity hauling, livestock feeding assistance, we try to help wherever help is needed.”

Erdmann said the nonprofit assisted more than 800 farm and ranch families since 2006.

“Each year, our goal is to help more than the year before, and thankfully, we’ve got a lot of support in doing that,” said Erdmann. “We’re trying to ramp up our operations year to year and help even more families during some of those darkest days.”

The organization began working with Kansans in 2020. Erdmann said it has been an uphill battle.

“I think there’s there’s always hesitancy, especially in farming and ranching, because there’s so much pride that goes along with the work that they’re doing,” he said. “No one wants to, you know, admit that they maybe need a little extra help, and a lot of people are hesitant, and they might think that there’s a hidden mission to what we’re doing, and there’s not. There’s no strings attached.”

Erdmann says it’s free assistance. He said it started slowly in 2020 with a couple of harvest cases. It has since taken off to help wildfire victims, including ranchers in the Four County Fire. Volunteers also stepped in to help a farmer with cancer.

“A lot of hay has been hauled through an operation that we call Operation Hay Lift,” he said. “It’s just connecting folks with the delivery of hay, that are going through, you know, whether it be wildfire or severe drought, which has been the case for a lot of folks the last couple of years.”

With inflation and the pandemic, Erdmann is hopeful he can spread the word so more people know about the valuable resource and the organization can help more farmers.

“Farming and ranching are tough enough in a normal year,” he said. “It’s hard to make a living as is, and then, you throw in an unexpected injury, illness or natural disaster, and it can control and break the back of that organization or that operation, and so we try to serve as that stopgap.”

If you want to celebrate the national day, Erdmann said consider volunteering, be a sponsor, make an individual donation, thank a farm rescuer or nominate someone who needs help.

“We want to keep them doing what they love to do long-term. Our main goal is to allow them to leave something for the next generation,” he said. “We’re helping family farms, and we want them to continue as family farms.”

For more information about helping farmers, click here.