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Alabama receives $500k grant to address mental health of farmers

Farmer Bryce Wrigley stands in his fields of barley.  He switched to a no-till method of...
Farmer Bryce Wrigley stands in his fields of barley. He switched to a no-till method of agriculture in 2010 and has since incorporated more of the soil health principles into his farm.(Milo Wrigley)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 3:06 PM CDT
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(WTVY) - The information below was provided to WTVY in a press release from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

(Press Release) MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) State Department of Agriculture (SDA) projects. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries was awarded $500,000 to complete a Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network project.

This grant will provide outreach to farmers to make them more aware of the stress triggers associated with mental health. Training and outreach events will provide information and resources to address mental health needs of Alabama farmers.

“Being a farmer is both physically and mentally demanding,” said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate. “Life on the farm can be extremely stressful as producers cope with unpredictable weather, fluctuating commodity prices, labor shortages and increased input costs, along with life’s normal challenges. We hope our department will be able to help farmers develop strategies to better manage stress.”

“NIFA’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network connects farmers, ranchers and others in agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs,” said NIFA Director Dr. 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.

“I became aware federal funds were available for us to coordinate with the Alabama Department of Mental Health to specifically target our rural communities where mental well-being isn’t often discussed,” said Commissioner Pate. “We have branded this initiative ‘A Healthy You, A Healthy Farm.’ We hope to remove the stigma associated with discussing mental health.”

For more information, please contact Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Deputy Commissioner Tami Culver at Tami.Culver@agi.alabama.gov or 334-240-6594.

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