Giving farmers a helping hand
By Cora Fox, Center for Rural Affairs
Whether you are a beginning farmer or have been farming for 30 years, it is important to know resources are available to assist you in your farming venture – through education, technical assistance, mediation, or counseling.
Maybe you’d like financial counseling, or support during land transition, but aren’t sure where to go? Are you concerned about your farming operation or do you need mediation services?
The Center for Rural Affairs has compiled a list of well-established organizations to aid farmers in navigating these resources. While this list is not all-inclusive, it covers a wide array of services. Center for Rural Affairs, 402.687.2100, www.cfra.org, operates a helpline with information on farm bill programs that can help farmers or ranchers get started or implement conservation programs. Staff make referrals to organizations that may better address questions or concerns.
Farm Aid, 800.FARM.AID (800.327.6243), www.farmaid.org, connects farmers to resources with an online directory listing more than 750 organizations. Farm Aid also provides information on farm start-ups, sustainable agriculture, legal issues in farming, farm financing, and farm activism and organizing.
Michigan State University Extension, 517.279.4311, msue.anr.msu.edu, has a free online program. “Weathering the Storm: How to Manage Stress on the Farm,” addresses signs and symptoms of chronic stress and helps farmers cope with challenges.
National Farmers Union, 202.554.1600, nfu.org, plays an active role in the farm bill and works on grassroots driven policy. They have connections with numerous farm organizations, and make referrals.
Rural Response Hotline, 800.464.0258, imneb.org/imn-programs/farming/rural-response-hotline/, is available for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents to call. Staff make referrals to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, other farmers, and mediation services, as needed. In addition, staff assists with stress, depression, or other mental health concerns.