Farming is a stressful job – even in good times – and the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting economic hardships have only added to farmers’ and ranchers’ stress, and that of their families, colleagues and communities. This year during Commodity Classic, the American Soybean Association and Farm Credit offer a Learning Session opportunity designed to help farmers recognize and respond to signs of chronic stress in themselves and others.
Eric Karbowski, community behavioral health educator with Michigan State University Extension, leads this short program that will help participants create self-awareness and provide them with tools and resources to help those in need.
The Mending the Stress Fence Learning Center Session will be Friday, March 5, 8:00 am – 9:00 am Central. Please register at CommodityClassic.com, where the first 5,000 farmers can register at no-cost courtesy of this year’s show sponsors.
Mending the Stress Fence is beneficial for those experiencing stress, or those who live or work with those who may be experiencing stress. Note, participants are not identified unless they voluntarily share their name in the Q&A chat feature following Karbowski’s presentation. This will be a safe place to share personal stories and hear from others with like experiences and will lay a foundation for:
• Recognizing signs and symptoms of chronic stress
• Building skills to recognize and respond to mental health concerns
• Learning how to respond and where to go for more help and resources
• Accessing resources for handling stress for a more productive mindset on the farm
To help producers better cope with stress, Farm Credit created a free online farm stress training course for farmers and rural community members in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, Michigan State University Extension and University of Illinois Extension. The Rural Resilience program was launched in December 2019, but in 2020 the free course, originally available to Farm Bureau and Farmers Union members, became available to everyone.
The American Soybean Association in May 2020, correlating with Mental Health Month, launched the #SoyHelp campaign, including outreach from the United Soybean Board and state soybean affiliates. The campaign was meant to increase awareness surrounding farm stress and offer ongoing resources and information for guidance and help available nationally and in Minnesota.
Both organizations continue to seek ways to be involved in this important issue, including this joint learning opportunity at the Commodity Classic Special Edition digital event moderated by ASA’s Wendy Brannen and Farm Credit’s Brittany Jablonsky.