MFU congratulates state ag department on receiving grant to support mental health initiative
Oct. 28, 2021
ST. PAUL – On Oct. 27, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network State Department of Agriculture projects.
Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture (MDA) was among the grant recipients. MDA and 11 project partners will receive $500,000 for their mental health initiative, “Bend, Don’t Break.” The rural mental health initiative will build upon existing efforts to connect farmers and rural Minnesotans with resources to help reduce stress and anxiety. The grant will allow the department and its partners to support, improve and promote services, such as mental health counseling, farm advocates, marriage retreats and a 24/7 Farm and Rural Helpline, and will expand a radio show and podcast series that profiles farmers who have navigated difficult situations.
“Minnesota Farmers Union congratulates the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for receiving this grant and leading on this critical issue. Last year, our members passed a special order calling for affordable health care and improved access to comprehensive health care, which includes mental health care,” said Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish. “Mental health has been ignored for too long. Farming can be very stressful as farmers have to manage for many variables that are out of their control, including extreme weather events and unfair markets. The department’s work on mental health has been very important to reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and reassuring farmers that it’s ok to talk about mental health and seek help. We want farmers to know they aren’t alone in their challenges and there are people for them to talk to.”
The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network was reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. It supports projects that provide stress assistance for people in farming, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations. The grants went to projects that initiate, expand or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance through farm telephone helplines and websites, training programs and workshops, support groups and outreach services and activities.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org)