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North Dakota Ag News Headlines
The Spirit of Agriculture
North Dakota Ag Connection - 02/22/2024

“We take care of our own.” This phrase is often used to share empathy and love freely, and it was recently freely shared with my farming family.

Farming is a special business. It’s a virtuous way of life and a wonderful way to raise a family. But it’s also hard. The ups and downs of running and living on a farm are challenging to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it first-hand. Hard times can break you, but they can also bring growth. My story is about an organization that shows up during the darkest times on the farm, and through grace, turns the darkest of hours into times of unity.

First, some background.

I am the oldest of three brothers and we could not be more different or better friends. I spend my days in Washington, D.C., serving the farmers I care about as an economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. My middle brother operates the family farm in North Dakota with his wife alongside my father and mother. My other brother is a project manager in Boston, Massachusetts.

It had been five years since our farm in rural Fullerton, North Dakota, was struck by the word “cancer.” My father, Ben, is a miracle, saved from pancreatic cancer by the caring hands of doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic. Since his diagnosis, Ben has experienced five birthdays, five anniversaries, three weddings and welcomed his first grandchild – my daughter – into the world. Then about a year ago, cancer came back. First, the chemo that had saved my father’s life now threatened it in the form of leukemia. A week later, what was thought to be a hip injury to my youngest brother in Boston turned out to be an 8-inch lymphoma tumor.

As treatment plans were assembled for both of my family members, the reality sank in that we were approaching crop planting season with limited access to the key farm decisionmakers. It turns out that my father’s biggest threat to survival was an infection and the most dangerous place he could be was in the field. The doctors told him, a lifetime farmer, that he had to stay out of the soil that gives life to the crops grown on our farm. Fortunately, I was able to team up with my brother and his wife, who showed incredible leadership and resilience, to get the crop planted. It was a full family effort including my daughter and wife day after day, night after night but we got the job done.

Then came fall harvest. Family and neighbors helped, providing equipment and labor anywhere they could, but with harvesting to do and jobs of their own, we were still short on labor. Not knowing where to turn, family and friends suggested Farm Rescue.

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