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SOMEONE TO LISTEN: A number of resources are available for farmers facing stressful situations. County offices, Extension, community colleges and the state department of agriculture offer various programs.

When you need to talk

The stresses associated with farming can become overwhelming. Mental health professionals are only a phone call away.

Low prices, market uncertainty, family problems.

The list could go on with things that are out of your control and cause serious day-to-day stress in your life.

Farmers often struggle whether or not they should seek help for themselves. Toughing it out has been the norm in the past. However, sometimes you need to let go of your pride and get the help you need. And if you are the spouse, parent, relative or friend, how do you approach a person in need? What if they do not want help?

Rob Holcomb, University of Minnesota Extension educator, explains that some behaviors may indicate that someone needs a hand:

• They isolate themselves.

• They abruptly sell land and livestock, or their equipment and farmstead fall into disrepair.

• Their substance use increases.

• They lack motivation and become less productive, or their mood changes.

• They use statements of hopelessness or giving up.

• Their sleep patterns are altered.

• They have unpaid bills.

• Their spouse, significant other and/or children show signs of stress.

State agencies, farm organizations and community colleges offer an array of programs and services that can help you and your family balance the challenges of business and family goals.

Here is a list of suggested services:

• The Mental Health Outreach Program, offered through the Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture. The program provides a team approach in addressing farm business concerns and personal stress and anxiety. Outreach addresses mental health issues such as emotional loss, frustration, domestic violence and suicidal thoughts; relationship changes such as increased tension and marital and family problems; and work challenges such as lost jobs or hours, work demands and schedule changes.

To learn more about the outreach program and the center’s farm business management program, contact Brad Schloesser, Southern Minnesota Center of Ag dean, 507-389-7263,; or Keith Olander, Northern Minnesota Center, director of AgCentric, 218-894-5163,

• Available through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, there is a free, confidential Farm & Rural Hotline you can call, 833-600-2670. It is available 24/7.

• Ted Matthews is a well-respected rural mental health counselor. He has worked with rural folks for more than 20 years and has extensive counseling experience in crisis intervention, family issues and domestic abuse. Call him at 320-266-2390.

• The Minnesota Department of Human Services maintains a list of all county adult mental health crisis response phone numbers. Check out the MDHS mental health resources list.

• The University of Minnesota offers links to deal with stress through a general website,

• Call 211 or go online to 2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people across the U.S. and in parts of Canada find the local resources they need. Available 24/7.

For financial assistance, contact:

• Farmer-Lender Mediation through the U-M Extension, 218-935-5785

• Farmers Legal Action Group, 877-860-4349,

Minnesota Farm Advocates through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 218-346-4866 

Minnesota Rural Finance Authority, through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture 651-201-6556

Minnesota State Farm Business Management Education, 218-894-5163 or 507-389-7263

• University of Minnesota Extension free, confidential financial counseling for farmers, 800-232-9077,


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