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The Story Behind Fallen Young Farmer

I would like to tell you a story about a young couple, high school sweethearts. They attended different schools in the same county and met through 4-H, showing livestock. After high school the couple were married. The foundation of their relationship was based on their faith in God, their love of family and their shared passion for agriculture. The had a small home on the family farm.

By the time they were 30, they had two daughters and were expecting their third. They owned an auction business, an appraisal company, a large farrow to finish swine operation, she worked as an appraiser and he worked off the farm with his father setting up manufactured homes. He also sold seed corn and they held an annual 4-H club pig sale. They were 4-H leaders, Swine superintendents at the County Fair, served on 4-H council and Extension Boards and He was Vice President of the Fair Board. They taught a young married couple Sunday School class and he was a deacon at their church. They were living their dream.

It was a beautiful morning in June. He went out to do the chores while she got the girls ready for the day. He didn’t work with his dad that day because they were getting ready for an auction to be held the next day. They shuffled the kids so she could go do an appraisal inspection. She came home just before lunch, just as he was headed out the door with the girls all packed up and ready to go with him. Since she was home early, he decided to have lunch with her and the girls before heading out to run errands and get things ready for the auction. He kissed them all and said “goodbye” as he headed out the door.

JUNE 19, 1998

RICHARD HUFF JR. “Rich” Salem, Indiana died at 3:35 pm from injuries suffered in an auto accident. Born in Washington County Indiana, on October 15, 1966, the son of Richard and Sandra Huff. Survived by his wife Melissa and daughters Mariah and Olivia and an unborn daughter his parents and brother Eric Huff.

Richayla Elizabeth Huff was born December 7, 1998

June 19, 1998 Rich’s life ended tragically and so did life as “I” knew it. This WAS “My” life.

30 years old and pregnant, I was faced with making decisions about things I had never even thought of. I had to pick out a casket and decide where my husband would be buried, I had to pick out funeral songs and flowers. In the days following, still in shock and mourning, I had to notify creditors, contact the life insurance company, file for social security and send death certificates. I had to pick out a head stone for my husband’s grave.

I had to grind feed, feed sows, load and ship market hogs, keep the sows on their breeding schedule and hire auctioneers to fulfill auction contracts.

I had become a single mother.

On June 19, 1998 I lost my husband, my best friend, the father of my children, by business partner, my financial security and my life partner. All those tough decisions I had just made were just the beginning. I would have to make ALL the decisions for my family, ALONE, from now on.

I made a choice….. It was difficult, but I chose to survive. I would not give up. I chose to raise my girls, with faith in God, love for family and a passion for agriculture. It wasn’t easy but I was fortunate enough to be able to raise my girls on a farm, albeit, I eventually had to sell the sow herd and downsize, but was able to afford opportunities to my girls to continue to raise and show livestock and I was able to instill that love and passion for agriculture that their father and I shared.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family, friends and our community.

All three of my daughters have since graduated from Purdue University. Raising my girls was my priority but when my youngest daughter headed off to college, it was time for me to give back. I wanted to help other young farm families faced with similar experiences and tragedy.

Maybe you know people with similar experiences, maybe someone in your own family or someone in your community has endured a tragic loss.

In 2018, I organized FALLEN YOUNG FARMER a 501c3, nonprofit, for the purpose of helping these families. I wanted to form an organization that could be a community for these families.

Our LOGO, the triple infinity symbolizes our infinite faith in God, our infinite Love of Family and our infinite passion for Agriculture.

Fallen Young Farmer is a non profit organization established to help preserve and sustain an agricultural based lifestyle for young farm families who have experienced the death of a spouse or significant other.

It is our mission to provide financial assistance, education and resources to those families in need and help them maintain an agricultural based lifestyle.

To partner with ag advocacy groups and agribusiness leaders to promote agriculture and to promote farm safety and awareness in an attempt to decrease the number of farm related fatalities.

Fallen Young Farmer provides:

Grants to assist with financial obligations

A website to provide information, links and support for grieving families

Increased awareness through networking with agribusiness industry leaders

Ag advocacy by networking with local, state and national law makers

Speaking engagements to promote farm safety and awareness to reduce farm related fatalities and suicide prevention

Our organization has future plans to provide ag based scholarships for students of who have lost a parent due to a farm related accident.

The number of Indiana Farms has decreased over the last 100 years. The decreasing number of farms and farmers is exactly why we need to preserve this lifestyle and provide assistance to enable those that are passionate about farming to continue to thrive.

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