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Cash Cow

Rancher wrangles eternal returns

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Dale Kreiman is a well-connected man. It may seem an unusual claim for a guy who lives on an isolated piece of prairie and doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook. “I’m not much of one for the computer,” the 58-year-old admits. “But my wife, Glenda, has e-mail.”

Dale’s connections are more “grounded,” you could say. Consider the names of the couple’s four grown children—Forrest, Fern, Field and Ivy. Then there’s his vocation, which is shared by one of his sons. “Field’s a fourth-generation rancher/farmer,” says the proud father, who, with his third child, raises 150 cattle and “crops” 1,200 acres of mostly wheat and barley. “Dale lives in one of those places you’d have to be looking for to find—he’s out in the middle of nowhere in eastern Montana,” quips business associate Ivan Friesen.

His agrarian experience does seem to give Dale an edge with biblical associations. “I love the parables; they’re easy for me to understand,” says the 10-year member of the C&MA Church of Richey. A believer since the age of 10, he adds, “Since I was a kid, we had missionaries in our house—I can’t remember not supporting missions.”

A Cattle List for Change

Last year, the Kreimans gave $7,000 to ministry, $4,000 of it to Alliance Great Commission Ministries. They’re part of a posse of ranchers and farmers who, since 1992, have directed more than $90,000 to Great Commission Ministries through STEER, INC.—a North Dakota–based group that’s been raising funds for evangelical missions since 1957. “My first love is working with cows,” the senior Kreiman admits, when asked about farming and ranching. “I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid; I mostly farm to feed my cattle.” In partnering up with STEER, INC., Dale has combined his love for cows with his passion to reach lost people.

“It’s an ingenious program!” he exclaims. “A donor puts up money to buy a cow, and I furnish the labor and feed. When it’s time to sell the cows, the buyer makes the check out to STEER, since the cattle bear the organization’s brand. STEER then sends a check to the missions group I’ve designated.”

Friesen is the nonprofit group’s ministry development assistant. “We’re unique,” he says. “One thing I’ve heard over the past 20 years of working with STEER is: ‘I’m so thankful I was able to give every year!’ I don’t know of another way for farmers or ranchers to give to missions without writing a check [from their own account]; if they had to write a check, it’d be difficult since they may have equipment that needs repair or other unexpected expenses at the end of the year.”

Dale agrees. “If I go to my banker, and my budget is tight, and I want to give, say, $4,000 to missions, I have to cut other expenses to survive. STEER, INC. is a way of supporting ministry that doesn’t affect my cash flow, one of the first things the banker will look at.”

The STEER, INC. plan also resonates with the spirit of rural entrepreneurs, enabling them to take a personal interest in their STEER projects.

“Let me give you a visual,” Dale volunteers. “A few years back, we were in the middle of a major snowstorm, and I came across a newborn calf that needed some extra attention. While I was carrying him to my truck, I slipped and fell and got covered in mud. I was feeling sorry for myself, but then I looked at the calf and realized that it was a STEER cow. It made me think about where the money for that cow was going. Right there, I stopped and prayed for the missionary who would receive the money because of that cow.”

Bovine Bounty

Numbers of Christian workers have benefited from Dale’s partnership with STEER, which he learned about in the 1990s during a presentation at one of the churches in his community. “One of my boys made a comment: ‘Is there any reason we don’t have a STEER cow on our ranch? Would you mind if I got one?’ My response was, ‘If you order one for yourself, order one for me as well.’”

Since then, the Kreimans have been able to give consistently to Alliance ministries. “If you’re already caring for cattle, or other livestock, putting up a few extra in your bunch is so easy,” Dale says. “My wife and I now have five cows with STEER, and my son has two. We hope to add a few more in the future, and we have other friends that we’d like to see get involved.”

That’s good news to the folks at STEER. “Right now we’re looking for farmers and ranchers [to raise the livestock], since we’re full up on donations,” says Friesen.

“I think it’s a really well put-together program,” Dale observes. “It’s set up, literally and figuratively, for the eternal. When someone donates money to buy a cow, part of the money they hold is for their [cattle] replacement plan. One year, three of our cows were hit by lightning; one was a STEER cow. The group replaced it with their insurance plan. Once you buy a cow, it gives to missions forever.”

Lend Us Your Ears

STEER isn’t just about cattle. Grain farmers, you can increase your ministry giving—with no cash investment on your part—when you sign up for STEER’s “God’s Acres” program.

  • STEER provides participating farmers with the funds to produce crops (wheat, barley, durum, corn, soybeans, etc.) on 5, 10, 20 or more acres of their land.
  • Farmers mail a check from the sale of those crops to STEER. (Since all checks are made out to the nonprofit, and the gains from these sales are not accounted as personal income—farmers do not pay social security tax on STEER projects.)
  • Once the farmer receives a notice of sale from STEER on the project’s profit—minus the initial STEER investment, including operating and insurance costs—85 percent of the gain is then funneled to the missions agency, missionary or project the farmer designates.
  • Since the original investment in the farmer’s crops is deducted from the profit, that amount becomes available to invest again in another “God’s Acres” farming project.

“The first dollar spent in 1957 is with us today,” says Friesen. “When a donation is given to STEER, INC., the money is never spent—it’s invested.”

STEER, INC. representatives are readily available to give presentations in churches, or talk to ranchers and farmers directly about how to raise funds for missions through their farming/ranching operations. Check out the Web site at www.steerinc.com or e-mail steerinc@steerinc.com. You can also call 701-258-4911.

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