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Help on the farm: Rescue organization helps local farmers in need

Rodney Rebel stands outside of his house Tuesday while pointing to Highway 8, where a semi truck rear-ended his cabless-tractor in March near his farm south of Richardton. Farm Rescue, an organization that travels the upper Midwest helping farmers in need, was planting on a section of the Rebel family's land about a mile north of his farm.1 / 2
Farm Rescue worker Mark Baumgarten of Moorhead, Minn., left, and Randy Weaver of Louisville, Ky., speak about the field they were seeding drill for Rodney Rebel south of Richardton on top of an air drill while filling fertilizer Wednesday morning.2 / 2

Planting crops near his home between South Heart and Belfield wasn't in the cards this year for Daryl Zarak.

A brain injury from an ATV accident in December has kept Zarak from being able to do much on the farm.

So, Farm Rescue stepped in and helped the farmer take care of some of his planting.

"Without Farm Rescue's help, that land would not have gotten seeded and it would have had to be rented out to someone else to use," Zarak said.

While Zarak can still use a tractor to feed his cows as his therapy continues -- he's expected to have a full recovery -- a doctor has ordered him to refrain from driving tractors in the field following the injury that was severe enough to warrant a flight to Denver for treatment.

Farm Rescue stepped in last weekend to plant flax and sunflowers, which Zarak said is a big help to him and his three sons, who help on the farm.

The Zaraks were one of three southwest North Dakota farm families in need of help this season. Farm Rescue heeded the call for help.

The Jamestown-based organization plans to help at least 41 families this year -- and likely more -- as Rita Jarrett, Farm Rescue office and outreach coordinator, said applications for assistance continue to roll in.

Other area families receiving a helping hand from Farm Rescue include Richard and Joan Hintz of New Leipzig, and Rodney Rebel of Richardton.

On Tuesday, volunteers and families helped by Farm Rescue this year gathered to share their story at Rebel's farm in Richardton, where Farm Rescue is doing work this week.

"It's terrible," Rebel said about his broken left arm and pelvis suffered in a March accident after his cabless tractor was rear-ended by a semi truck on Highway 8 near his home south of Richardton.

"I've been in the house since March and lost cows in the last winter storm. It turns life around."

But Farm Rescue looks to make the situation better for Rebel and others through the group's efforts across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and eastern Montana. Iowa was added to the list last year.

"As the organization grows, we hope to add other states and branch out," Jarrett said.

Farm Rescue learns about the families through nominations or applications for assistance that may be filled out and submitted by anyone, including the families themselves.

To qualify for assistance, a farmer must be suffering or have suffered a major injury, illness or natural disaster that prevents farm work from happening.

That could include being physically incapable of operating machinery or not having machinery left to farm in the case of a natural disaster, said Danielle Abbas, marketing communications coordinator for Farm Rescue

Nominations can include the nominator's name or be sent anonymously.

"This will hopefully encourage other farmers who may be in need of assistance to apply or encourage interested individuals to sign up as Farm Rescue volunteers," Abbas said. "It is also a great way to show exactly what Farm Rescue is doing so that residents of the states that we are active in will gain a greater understanding of what exactly Farm Rescue does."