Oct 27, 2021
NIFA invests nearly $25M in Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced Oct. 26 an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Network State Department of Agriculture projects.

“NIFA’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network connects farmers, ranchers and others in agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs,” said National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director Carrie Castille. “Creating and expanding a network to assist farmers and ranchers in times of stress can increase behavioral health awareness, literacy, and positive outcomes for agricultural producers, workers and their families.”

Funded projects must initiate, expand, or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance as necessary through farm telephone helplines and websites; training programs and workshops; support groups; and outreach services and activities.

Examples of  FY2021 Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Program-SDA projects include:

  • Colorado Department of Agriculture’s project, Colorado Farmer and Rancher Mental Health Support, will expand the vitality and psychosocial wellbeing of Colorado’s agricultural workers with community-based efforts to manage the increasing stress on farmers and ranchers. ($500,000)
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture’s project, Georgia Farmer Healthy Mindset, will take a multifaceted approach to address stress and mental health outreach and awareness, programming, capacity building, and farmer financial literacy. ($500,000)
  • Maine Department of Agriculture’s project supports Maine farmers through a fellowship program with the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust and community-led food and medicine projects across tribal communities with the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective. ($500,000)
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Bend, Don’t Break project will engage agency, nonprofit, and educational partners in helping farmers and others in agriculture cope with adversity, addressing suicide, farm transition/succession, legal problems, family relationships and youth stress. ($500,000)
  • Washington State Department of Agriculture will collaborate with Washington Department of Health and Washington State University Extension to create two programs to address suicide prevention and behavioral health. ($500,000)
  • Executive Office of the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands will create outreach activities, seminars, training, workshops, and resources to allow local farmers to develop a Farm and Stress Assistance Network locally; and collaborate with the FRSAN-Southern Region to respond to the stress experienced by agricultural producers in the U.S. Virgin Islands through prevention, intervention, and future mitigation efforts. ($500,000)

Long before the pandemic caused an increase in stress around the world, stress-related mental health was already a rising concern across farm communities coast to coast. USDA-NIFA introduced a competitive grants program, the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, which supports projects that provide stress assistance for people in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations. FRSAN offers a conduit to improving behavioral health awareness, literacy, and more favorable outcomes for them and their families. In fiscal year2020, NIFA awarded $28.7 million to four regional entities contributing to FRSAN, to ensure vulnerable agricultural producers and their families have more options for high-quality, affordable help close to home.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In fiscal year 2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.

Visit www.nifa.usda.gov; Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA.

To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science (searchable by state or keyword), visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts.

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