Farm Rescue brings relief to farmers in desperate need

Nic Hendrickx of Elizabeth often works in the background of many Farm Rescue operations, but late this summer, he was on the front lines.

Nic Hendrickx of Elizabeth is usually in the background of Farm Rescue events, making sure the trucks and equipment keeps running when used to help family farmers plant, harvest or receive hay assistance if they are ill, injured or suffering from a natural disaster. In late August, he took a more frontline approach as he helped organize loads of hay and get drivers and trucks needed for a hay haul to drought-ravaged western North Dakota farms and ranches. His efforts earned him recognition from the organization.
Photo by Carol Stender

Hendrickx helped secure hay, truck drivers and trucks for a “hay haul” to drought ravaged farms and ranches in western North Dakota.

He worked closely with Justin Beyer who initiated the effort. Beyer, a member of his family’s auto body and towing business in Fergus Falls, was seeking donations from local businesses to pay for transportation costs for a hay lift. It was his idea to get private trucks to donate their time, Hendrickx said. When he mentioned the idea to Hendrickx, the Elizabeth businessman knew Farm Rescue could help make Beyer’s idea a reality.

Farm Rescue is a nonprofit organization providing planting, harvesting and haying assistance free of charge to family farmers who have suffered a major injury, illness or natural disaster. Individuals can donate time and/or money for the project needs.

Hendrickx joined the organization three years ago after learning about it at a local implement dealership. He felt a connection to it and its mission. Hendrickx grew up on a farm in Elizabeth Township and helped with chores and fieldwork. That operation has transitioned from dairy to a commercial hay operation and now focuses on grain production. He helped when needed, he said, but focused on his own on site repair business.

He is an Alexandria Technical College diesel mechanics grad who operates an on site repair business. Industry and farmers are his customers.

With Farm Rescue, Hendrickx uses his mechanical skills to keep trucks and machinery running.

For their hay lift, the two contacted drivers made the delivery. Others helping were two privately owned drivers, a UPS semi and several farmers who offered vehicles and also to drive when needed. 

Originally they set a goal of 10 loads, but ended with close to 20. Farm Rescue organized the list of farms where those loads would go. The organization also covered transportation costs including the funds secured through the local donation effort. The farmers paid for the loads.

Around 7 a.m. on August 26, the convoy left Rothsay. It was different than most Farm Rescue operations as the group made a few stops to promote the hay lift, he said. But they arrived late that afternoon delivering the hay to farms and ranches near Beulah, Bismarck and Washburn.

The drivers saw the need farmers and ranchers had for the hay. While cornfields in western Minnesota were around 7 feet tall with fully formed ears, the fields in western North Dakota were around 4 to 5 feet high. The ground was parched. “One farm we were delivering to was still securing more hay for the year,” he said. “Another farm was using ethanol by-products with the hay to meet their feed needs.”

Farmers told the drivers they’d only been able to harvest a fourth of their normal hay production themselves.

One farmer was still securing more hay while another said he was close to having what his operation needed. Some were using ethanol by-products to feed their stock.

It was a good feeling moving from the sidelines where Hendrickx made sure equipment was working properly to the front lines.

“It was nice to know we are making a difference,” he said of the trek. “I don’t believe this was the standard (Farm Rescue operation) because there was more people involved and because we were part of this big convoy but it was great to see the fruits of all our labors and to see how we are helping people.”

For more information on Farm Rescue, check the website farmrescue.org.