Hope for Wisconsin Farm Families

Author: Roger T. Williams, Chairman of Harvest of Hope Fund

If you are a Wisconsin farm family that is behind in your electric power bill and the power company is threatening to turn off your power, what can you do?  This is a common experience in Wisconsin; unfortunately, a farm without electricity is literally “dead in the water.”  Many Wisconsin farm families have turned to the Harvest of Hope Fund for help to get through cash flow crises like this.

What is the Harvest of Hope Fund?

The Harvest of Hope Fund was created in January 1986 to respond to the farm crisis of the 1980s.  It was intended to be a short-term effort to help some Wisconsin farm families get through a difficult time.  But the farm crisis never really ended and the fund has now given out over 1,655 gifts totaling more than $1,075,000 over our 33 year history as an organization. 

Farm Crisis Situations in Wisconsin 

The range of farm crisis situations is extensive: electric power cut-offs, medical or veterinary bills, house or barn fires, feed for cattle, machinery repair, climatic conditions (drought, floods, frost, hail), supplies for spring planting, or simply putting food on the table or fuel in the fuel tank. 

Prices for agricultural products—milk, corn, soybeans, pork—have been low for the past five years intensifying the farm crisis for Wisconsin farm families.

How is it funded? 

The Harvest of Hope Fund was created by and is still supported by the Madison Christian Community (MCC), an ecumenical Christian community on the west side of Madison, Wisconsin.  The MCC covers all the administrative costs associated with the program and the fund is administered by an all-volunteer committee so every dollar contributed to the fund goes directly to Wisconsin farm families in need.  Grants are limited to two gifts of $1,500 over time to spread the money as far as possible among farm families in crisis situations.

“We are most appreciative of a recent gift from the  Rural Mutual Insurance Company…this will help us respond to the recent downturn in the Wisconsin farm economy.  We welcome all partnerships that further the important mission of the Harvest of Hope Fund.”

Harvest of Hope Mission 

The mission of the Harvest of Hope is simple: to provide financial help –and hope—to Wisconsin farm families in difficult financial situations. 

Five principles are important in making decisions about grants to farm families:

  1. Our goal is to keep Wisconsin family farms in the hands of farm families
  2. We respond to families in crisis situations, at times that could turn into disaster
  3. We respond quickly, always within a week of the request and often in 2-3 days
  4. We are especially sensitive to the needs of farm families with small children
  5. We link farm families with local experts for financial and management assistance. 

We also ask farm families to sign a “covenant” saying they will contribute to the fund—if and when they are able to do so—so gifts get passed on to other Wisconsin farm families in need.

Contact us for help!

If you are a Wisconsin farm family with emergency needs, please contact us: 608:836-1455 (press 8) or visit the Harvest of Hope website. 

If you call, leave your complete name, address and phone number following our voicemail message.  If you go to our website, click “Serving” then click on “Harvest of Hope” in the drop-down menu to gain access to our brochure and application forms.