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FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, Jim Whitman, with the nonprofit organization Farm Rescue that helps farmers in need, drives a combine in a cornfield at a farm near Wyndmere, N.D. The organization is expanding into its sixth state. Farm Rescue will provide free haying and hay-hauling help to Nebraska farmers in need this year, as it continues providing services to farmers in both Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack, File)
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Farm Rescue nonprofit expanding into Nebraska, its 6th state

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, Jim Whitman, with the nonprofit organization Farm Rescue that helps farmers in need, drives a combine in a cornfield at a farm near Wyndmere, N.D. The organization is expanding into its sixth state. Farm Rescue will provide free haying and hay-hauling help to Nebraska farmers in need this year, as it continues providing services to farmers in both Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack, File)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Plains farm aid nonprofit that has steadily grown since being launched in North Dakota a dozen years ago is expanding into a sixth state.

Farm Rescue will provide haying and hay-hauling help, free of charge, to farmers in need in Nebraska this year. It has already provided assistance with crop planting, harvesting and hay for more than 400 farm families in the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa since 2005.

Farm Rescue doesn’t dole out cash — it has about 1,100 volunteers from around the country who do the actual physical work for farmers who have suffered a major injury, illness or natural disaster. The nonprofit relies on business sponsors and donations, and its annual budget has grown from a shoestring to about $900,000.

This year, there is enough support in Nebraska to add the haying services, said founder and President Bill Gross, a North Dakota farm boy who flies a cargo plane for a living but stays tied to his rural roots.

“We wanted to start with haying and get our name known in Nebraska,” he said. “Hopefully with our good work we’ll be able to garner more support from foundations, businesses and individuals (in the state) so we can offer more services.”

Farm Rescue’s next geographic jump is dependent on the continued growth of the organization’s budget and volunteer base, and isn’t likely for at least another year or two. Gross also would first like to see the nonprofit expand its services to include livestock assistance for ranchers, even in the winter months.

“A year-round operation is what we’re looking into,” he said.

Farm Rescue is currently taking applications for spring assistance in all of the states in which it works.

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Online:

Farm Rescue: www.farmrescue.org

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