Help is available for Minnesota producers facing times of stress

For Minnesota farmers and livestock producers experiencing times of stress due to business and financial challenges, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) offers a reminder of free, confidential tools that are available to help.

“From low commodity prices and extreme weather to continued threats like highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), Minnesota’s farmers and their families face a wide range of unique stressors that can have ripple effects in all areas of life,” MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “You do not have to navigate times of hardship on your own. I encourage farmers and their families to make use of the MDA’s resources designed to support you.”

The Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline is open to anyone who is struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression. Calls are answered 24/7 by trained counselors who can lend a listening ear or connect you with help for business, financial, or legal problems. Call 833-600-2670 or text “FARMSTRESS” to 898211 to get started.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a crisis caused by either a natural disaster or financial problems, contact one of MDA’s nine Farm Advocates. They know all about agricultural lending practices, mediation, lender negotiation, farm programs, crisis counseling, disaster programs, and to recognize the need for legal and/or social services.

Minnesota also has Ted Matthews and Monica McConkey, experienced, ag-focused mental health providers who offer confidential counseling services at no cost to farm individuals, couples, or families anywhere in the state. Sessions can take place in person, on Zoom, or over the phone, and insurance is not needed. They have helped hundreds of Minnesota farmers and farm family members over the years.

For financial assistance, the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) provides a variety of low-interest loans, including one for disaster relief. MDA also posts a number of grant opportunities throughout the year, such as the AGRI Livestock Investment Grant, which can help improve, update, and modernize livestock operation infrastructure and equipment.

To learn more about all of the state resources that are available to help in times of stress, visit www.minnesotafarmstress.com, or contact the Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline at 833-600-2670 or by texting “FARMSTRESS” to 898211.

As part of its policy platform, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association advocates for increased funding for rural mental health. President Bob Worth has become a national advocate for farmer mental wellness.

“Communication is so important,” Worth said, “especially during times of stress.”

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