Everyday America’s farmers are becoming more of a lifeline for feeding the nation’s rapidly growing population. Farmers are in great demand, and although technology has made agriculture a safer industry, there are always dangers lurking.

In keeping with this thought, Jeff Link, an Abingdon farmer, donated $2,500 to the Knox County Young Farmers Committee to be used towards the purchase of five grain entrapment rescue tubes. Link was selected as a winner in the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM program, which gave farmers the opportunity to direct a donation of $2,500 to their favorite local nonprofit. Registration for this round of the program ran from August through the end of December 2010.

On a typical weekday in January, Link received a call that he was the winning farmer for his county. When asked where the donation should go, Link requested additional time to discuss his decision with his family. Link knew he wanted the donation to be ag-related, but wasn’t sure about the best use of the money for his community. It was his daughter, who did an internship at the Knox County Farm Bureau, who reminded Link that the Farm Bureau would be a good place. His daughter’s suggestion, along with Link’s large use of grain bin storage on his farm, helped make the decision much easier.

The rescue tubes were donated to local fire departments and first responders during a training session hosted by the Young Farmers Committee on Saturday, March 19. The training session included 60 firefighters from 14 fire departments throughout Knox County and surrounding communities.

From August thru December 2010, in more than 1,200 eligible counties, farmers signed up for the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite community non-profit organization. The Monsanto Fund expects to invest more than $3 million in local communities. In total, more than $200,000 has been donated to nonprofits in Illinois.

The America’s Farmers Grow Communities program is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. To date, more than 60,000 farmers participated in the program, which is designed to benefit nonprofit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. Please visit the Grow Communities website to view a complete list of winners.

Farmers can begin signing up for the next round of America’s Farmers Grow Communities program on August 1, 2011.

Paul Suess

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