No one ever said that farming was easy. Demanding physical labor, a schedule dictated by the weather and prices determined by an unpredictable market -- these are just a few of the realities that farmers live with on a daily basis. And that’s when times are good.
Farmers and ranchers across the country are currently facing challenges that supersede the usual. Many are dealing with consecutive years of low commodity prices, destruction from recent natural disasters and volatile weather patterns, and tensions in international agriculture markets. While the national economy continues to grow, times are tough for America’s farmers.
Rural primary care practitioners are often the first line of mental health care for farmers and ranchers, particularly in communities that lack specialized services. But as fewer and fewer people are involved in agriculture, we need to ensure health care providers understand the unique challenges farmers face, and that they could need more support than usual given the current agricultural economy. To better equip these rural practitioners to recognize when their farmer patients are experiencing stress and direct them to resources that may assist, Farm Credit supports AgriSafe Network’s Total Farmer Health program that educates rural health professionals about the conditions in which many farmers are living today.
For more than 100 years, Farm Credit has supported farmers in good times and in bad. We understand the challenges our customers face because agriculture is what we do and who we are. In this uncertain ag economy, Farm Credit is singularly focused on working, day-in and day-out, to achieve the best possible outcome for our customer-owners.
And, this extends to more than just providing loans and financial services. All across the country, Farm Credit is stepping up to help, whether it is by educating farmers about mental health, directing them to appropriate resources or training Farm Credit lending staff, rural community leaders and rural health professionals to better support farmers’ needs.
Many rural communities don’t have adequate mental health services. Recognizing this challenge, many Farm Credit associations have partnered with local organizations that specialize in farmer mental health, providing education and resources that farmers may not find elsewhere. Other associations have hosted events specifically for farmers that address topics, such as recognizing symptoms of stress, that are particularly relevant for them today. Still others leverage their customer-facing websites as a platform to share information about mental health care.
As cooperatives, Farm Credit understands the importance of community, especially when times are tough. For this reason, many Farm Credit associations have created employee training programs to ensure that loan officers are prepared to engage in sensitive conversations with customer-owners and, if needed, share information about resources that may be useful. In other areas of the country, Farm Credit associations have developed programs that provide legal, financial and counseling services to their customers.
While the challenges are great and the barriers are many, Farm Credit is dedicated to doing everything we can to support our customers, now and always. We are in this together.