Cass County Firemen’s Association receives donation from America’s Farmers Grow Communities

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020

HOWARD TOWNSHIP — The Cass County Firemen’s Association will be buying new rescue equipment, thanks to the effort of a Dowagiac farmer.

Andy Ausra, of Terry Ausra Farms in Dowagiac, recently directed a $2,500 America’s Farmers Grow Communities donation to the Cass County Firemen’s Association.

Ausra, along with the president of the CCFA and deputy chief of the Dowagiac Fire Department Robert Smith,  presented the donation in the form of a check during Monday’s CCFA meeting at the Howard Township Fire Department, 2681 Detroit Road, Niles.

The CCFA will use the funds to purchase additional ag rescue equipment to be used in various rescue situations involving farm or agriculture-related emergencies.

“We have many farms and related agriculture businesses in Cass County,” Smith said. “With Mr. Ausra identifying this need and securing the donation, this will be used to purchase and supplement our county inventory of rescue equipment for emergencies and farm-related accidents.”

The AFGC program partners with farmers to provide grants to local nonprofits to help their communities. Through the program, farmers enroll for the chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a local eligible nonprofit organization of their choice.

According to a press release from the AFGC, the program is sponsored by Bayer Fund, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen the communities where Bayer customers and employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education and community development projects.

Through the program, farmers have directed donations to food banks, emergency response organizations, schools, youth agriculture programs, and more.

Since 2010, The America’s Farmers programs have given more than $57 million to rural communities across the country.

“There wasn’t a lot of equipment in the county for grain rescue and farm rescue,” Ausra said. “I talked with the association and heard about the program through the Bayer Fund, got picked, and they sent the check out. It’s something that we hope we’ll never need but would like to have. So, now we have the money to do it.”

Smith plans to form a committee consisting of CCFA department officials in order to determine exactly how to spend the donation and distribute the equipment.

“We’ve had a couple of instances in the county where someone was trapped in agriculture equipment,” Smith said. “Some of this equipment may have been useful if we would’ve had it at the time. You never want an incident. In southwest Michigan right now, we’ve been pretty lucky that we haven’t had that many issues, but you never know. We could have one tomorrow.”