MN Department of Agriculture receives federal funding to address farm stress, mental health

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and 11 project partners $500,000 to advance work in farm stress and rural mental health in Minnesota.

The MDA’s “Bend, Don’t Break” initiative will build upon existing efforts to connect farmers and rural Minnesotans with resources to help reduce stress, anxiety, and crisis situations, such as the drought that is affecting many Minnesota farms and ranches. It will support, improve, and promote services, such as mental health counseling, farm advocates, marriage retreats, and a 24/7 Farm & Rural Helpline, and will expand a radio show and podcast series that profiles farmers who have navigated difficult situations.

“We know from working with farmers that suicide, farm transition and succession, legal problems, family relationships, and youth stress are crucial issues where we can all make a difference,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “We’re thankful that the USDA can help us expand our efforts.”

The initiative will also enhance the skills and responsiveness of professionals who work with farm families in stress through workshops, trainings, and other resources.

The MDA will partner with 11 organizations, including several that serve Indigenous or emerging/underserved farmers. Partners include:

• American Indian Community Housing Organization

• Big River Farms

• Farmers’ Legal Action Group

• Latino Economic Development Center

• Leech Lake Tribal College

• Minnesota Dairy Initiative

• Minnesota Department of Health

• Red River Farm Network

• South Central College

• University of Minnesota Extension

• Urban Farm & Garden Alliance

View the full list of USDA NIFA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistant Network grant recipients.