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Farm, ranch stress assistance available

Midwest farmers and ranchers are facing unprecedented stressors and uncertainty imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, weather related concerns and the derecho storm that impacted parts of the Midwest, according to a press release. As a result, mental health experts are predicting an increase in deaths by suicide due to social isolation, economic stress and related factors.

“That is why it is so important for farmers, ranchers and the agribusiness community have quick access to available programs and materials,” said David Brown, behavioral health specialist with Iowa State University extension and outreach.

Resources are available through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Eight north central states have been collaborating to offer a clearinghouse of resources for the farm and ranch community. The current site can be accessed online at www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/farm-ranch-wellbeing. The site offers information on programs, hotlines, websites, publications and more that can benefit farmers and ranchers in these challenging times, the release stated. The site also can be used to access the farm stress-related websites for every university extension service in the north central region. States include Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The goal of the clearinghouse is for farmers and ranchers and their families to have easy access to important information that is vital for those struggling during these challenging times, according to the release.

In Minnesota, the Farm and Rural Helpline is available 24/7 by phone at 833-600-2670, via text by sending FARMSTRESS to 898211 or by emailing farmstress@state.mn.us. Additional resources from both University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture can be found at z.umn.edu/ruralstress. For more information, contact Emily Krekelberg at krek00333@umn.edu or David Brown at dnbrown@iastate.edu.