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Strengthening Mental Health Support for Wisconsin Farmers: A Collaborative Effort
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/11/2023

In a recent visit to Valley Springs Farm Bed and Breakfast in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski highlighted the importance of mental health support for farmers and rural communities.

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by those in the agricultural industry, the governor urged the Legislature to support initiatives aimed at providing comprehensive mental and behavioral health services.

As a crucial pillar of the state's economy, agriculture requires dedicated attention to the well-being of farmers, farm families, and rural communities. Organizations like the Farmer Angel Network, represented by farm owners Dorothy and Don Harms, play a vital role in fostering mental wellness and suicide prevention in Sauk County and beyond.

The Wisconsin Farm Center has been a steadfast resource for farmers since the mid-1980s, offering services ranging from financial consulting to conflict mediation. Acknowledging the importance of mental health, the Center has implemented various initiatives to connect farmers with vital resources, including a 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline, tele-counseling services, counseling vouchers, online support groups, and educational programs.

Governor Evers' biennial budgets have consistently supported these programs, enabling the Farm Center to expand its reach and impact. The proposed budget for 2023-2025 allocates $100,000 annually to sustain these essential services. Additionally, plans to establish regional farmer support agents in Northwest and Northeast Wisconsin will enhance accessibility to financial services and mental health support.

The Farmer Angel Network, was born from a recognition that there is a scarcity of mental health resources for farm families, and advocates for stronger rural communities through education, resources, and fellowship. The network aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health struggles and elevate the importance of continued support for farmers' mental wellness.

Farmers and their families seeking support can reach out to the 24/7 Wisconsin Farmer Wellness Helpline at (888) 901-2558. By fostering partnerships with industry and mental health providers, the DATCP Farm Center, under Secretary Romanski's leadership, continues to prioritize mental health for farmers and their families.

As Wisconsin takes significant strides in addressing mental health concerns within the agricultural community, this collaborative effort aims to provide a lifeline of support, ensuring the long-term health and wellness of farmers and their families across the state.

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