Friday, June 27, 2014
When the Dyer County Farm Watch was implemented in March of 2013, the pilot program was a formed partnership consisting of local farmers, landowners, agribusinesses, as well as governmental and law agencies.
Since it’s inception more than a year ago, the watch has amassed over $23,000 in donations from individuals as well as businesses tired of falling victim to crime in rural areas of the county. The majority of those donations came starting in March of 2014.
“The first year was spent planning, organizing and getting all our paperwork in order. That in itself was a lot of work, but it’s been well worth it,” said local farmer and committee member Shane Burchfiel. “We’ve received several donations from individuals as well as businesses, and through those donations we’ve been able to be proactive in certain ways to prevent these crimes from happening.”
The latest donation to the pilot program, a $15,000 gift from the home office of Farm Bureau Insurance in Columbia, will go toward the continued upgrades in technology to assist local law enforcement agencies in their effort to curb the theft and vandalism of farm equipment.
Coming forth with the largest donation to date, the state office of Farm Bureau Insurance was pleased to be able to lend a hand to aid in the efforts of those involved with the Dyer County Farm Watch.
“We feel like this program will help cut down on the crime that our farming communities are facing with thefts and vandalism. We are impressed with the work and organization of the Dyer County Farm Watch committee, and wanted to be a part of it. Farm Bureau Insurance is committed to the agriculture community and we are proud that we could help,” said Kevin Howe, regional agency manager.
Dyer County Farm Bureau Agency Manager Kent Morris echoed the words of Howe, saying, “We are extremely proud that our insurance company recognizes the potential the Farm Watch program has to impact our local farmers and farming community. We pride ourselves in being a part of the local community and are glad our company is supporting this grassroots program.”
Since being implemented in 2013, the pilot program has seen encouraging results as agriculture crime continues to decrease according to Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box.
“In the past year we’ve arrested between 20 and 25 criminals through the technology we’ve been able to use thanks to these donations,” said Box. “The majority of those crimes would have gone undetected if not for the watch program, so it’s definitely working the way it’s supposed to.”
Since the watch was initiated, agricultural crimes are being classified as such instead of how things were before when they were simply listed along with other crimes.
Box said that while there is still criminal activity going on when it comes to farm equipment, through the farm watch things are getting better and better all the time.
“Ag crimes are definitely on the decline in Dyer County, and the arrest and recovery rates are now higher than ever before,” added Box. “The decline proves that the farm watch is working and we’re going to continue to add security measures in the future to make sure those crimes continue to decline.”