USDA Grant Will Support Farm Stress Assistance Regional Project

ISU Extension and Outreach will lead Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps

October 25, 2019, 9:41 am | David Brown, Laura Sternweis

Young couple hugging and overlooking farmland by Pierre/, Iowa – With a $480,000 grant from USDA, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and partners in seven north central states will provide stress assistance programs to support people engaged in farming, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations.

Iowa State is leading “Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps” as part of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. The regional project is one of four that have received grants totaling $1.92 million from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. USDA NIFA announced the competitive grants on Oct. 22. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network program was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Cooperative Extension Services in Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio will partner to develop an online program catalog of stress assistance programs, curricula, resources and trainings to help farmers and ranchers in the region.

Farm and Ranch Wellness: The Next Steps has two overarching goals, said David Brown, ISU Extension and Outreach behavioral health specialist who is working with other state principal investigators to lead this regional project.

“Our first goal is to develop a network of resources, trainings and connections to help farmers and ranchers know where to turn for help dealing with stress,” Brown said.

“Secondly, we want to provide a fuller and more robust network of stress assistance programs, including a stress hotline and prescription drug abuse education, in the North Central Region,” Brown added.

For example, those stress assistance programs include “Stress on the Farm: Strategies that Help” for anyone directly engaged in farming and ranching. Financial management programs targeted to farm and ranch women are available. Advocates would be better able to help farmers and ranchers after attending “Question. Persuade. Refer.” or “Mental Health First Aid.” All audiences can benefit from GenerationRx, which offers a comprehensive set of materials on the dangers of misusing prescription medications, including opioids.

The Iowa Concern hotline, which offers confidential stress counseling, also will be supported by the grant and will be available to people in the north central states, Brown said.

According to the USDA NIFA announcement, the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network is being launched to assist farmers, ranchers and other agriculture-related workers in times of stress. It offers a pathway for improving behavioral health awareness, literacy and outcomes for them and their families. The USDA NIFA funding will help launch the network in the North Central, Northeast, Southern and Western regions, leading to greater opportunities for agriculture producers and their families to find help in their communities and states.

“Our farmers, ranchers, and producers need help and programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health assistance and referral for other forms of support, as necessary,” NIFA Director J. Scott Angle said in the announcement.

See the NIFA website for a list of the grantees and their projects.

Photo credit: Pierre/

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