New Statewide Fund Supports Farmers and those Facing Hunger through Partnership with Rural Mutual Insurance

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While job losses and furloughs have made it increasingly difficult for Wisconsin families to put food on the table, the farming community has taken a hard hit with the loss of business from schools and restaurants, which accounted for nearly half their market.

That’s why Rural Mutual Insurance Company and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation teamed up to establish the Wisconsin Food and Farm Support Fund. Each entity is focusing on a different need, with Rural Mutual Insurance aiming to collect funds for Feeding Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau concentrating on fundraising for Harvest of Hope.

Feeding Wisconsin is the statewide association that supports Wisconsin’s six Feeding America member food banks. Harvest of Hope is a nonprofit that provides financial help to Wisconsin farm families in times of need for things like machinery repair, home heating fuel, and medical or veterinary expenses.

“We want to try and keep farmers and processors employed and up and running, while also getting paid for their products,” said Stephanie Jung Dorfman, executive director of Feeding Wisconsin. “At the same time, we can distribute those great Wisconsin products that we are proud of to those who really need it right now.”

This partnership also includes Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the nonprofit organization representing the state’s dairy farm families, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Dorfman explained that although we are in a dairy crisis right now, Rural Mutual Insurance understands that farmers need to find outlets for meat products as well as move produce to make room for the growing season.

Before Rural Mutual Insurance Company launched the Wisconsin Food and Farm Support Fund, its agents started taking action on their own through initiatives like fundraising to purchase milk from the farming community they serve, and then delivering the gallons to families, schools, food banks and food pantries.

“It’s been great to see the local agents already taking action in their own communities,” Dorfman said. “Rural Mutual Insurance Company wanted to do this statewide campaign to engage folks who might not have known where to start. What I appreciate about our network is our food banks have strong relationships with local farmers and processors. It’s really helpful to see a campaign like this support both farmers and our network in that two-fold way.”

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