Member of U.S. ag community helps Ukrainian refugees

Member of U.S. ag community helps Ukrainian refugees
May 25, 2022

Don Hutchens spent two weeks in Poland

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A member of the U.S. ag community recently returned from a trip to Europe where he saw firsthand how the conflict in Ukraine is affecting people in that country.

Don Hutchens, former executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board and a former director with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, spent two weeks volunteering in Poland with Operation Safe Harbor Ukraine, which provides housing for Ukrainians displaced because of the war.

Seeing and hearing the stories from Ukrainians seeking safety puts higher input costs in the U.S. into perspective, he said.

“How difficult it would be to have your grain silos bombed. Your export terminals blocked, your machinery stolen, your fields bombed or mined and then maybe having to get off of a tractor and go fight for your country," Hutchens told KETV.

Hutchens also documented his time in Poland on his Facebook page.

Don Hutchens
Don Hutchens (Facebook photo)

While in Poland, Hutchens made supply runs and delivered meals.

He also spent time with children at a hotel who are missing family members.

"Obviously they were missing their fathers or grandfathers or brothers, their uncles that were staying back in Ukraine to defend their country," he said.

And now Hutchens is asking his fellow producers to consider donating.

Though Ukraine is about 5,500 miles away from Nebraska, farmers between the two locations share that agricultural bond.

“They are farmers. They put their boots on very much like we do,” Hutchens said. “We are always there to help a neighbor in time of need.”

And a member of the Ukrainian ag community is visiting the U.S. to help raise money for his home country.

Roman Grynyshyn, who initiated World to Rebuild Rural Ukraine, a charity designed to help rural Ukrainian communities rebuild homes and ag production, has visited Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska and other states.

“We are trying to replace what was ruthlessly damaged or stolen from the least protected stratum of rural society,” he told KFEQ.