As September is National Suicide Awareness month, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is partnering with the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, USU Extension, and other industry organizations to create a stronger connection between existing programs and resources available for agriculture producers in crisis.
There are no shortages of challenges for farmers and ranchers between access to market issues, weather, pests and diseases, regulatory changes, and trade policy. According to the latest USDA Agriculture Census 56 percent of U.S. farmers report a net loss in cash income on their farms. But worse than that, in Utah that number rises to 65 percent.
“One of my most important messages and efforts as Commissioner will be to ensure we are doing more to love and care for one another as communities. We must do more to extend resources and programs out to the farmers and ranchers experiencing pressures that lead to hopelessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide,” said Commissioner Kerry Gibson of the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food in a recent guest editorial post in the Deseret News.
Indeed, there are a number of different resources available to the agriculture community. These include:
- Generalized behavioral health resources available to all citizens through county health departments, and numerous private behavioral health specialists;
- Religious community programs of support and counseling, along with their directives to locate qualified licensed counseling for those seeking help;
- Farmerhealth.org, an international organization dedicated to helping farmers with all kinds of health issues, including behavioral health;
- 2018 Farm Bill allocated $10 million for five years to create a Farm and Ranch Assistance Network Program in four regions of the country;
- The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has two financial assistance programs available to farmers and ranchers to improve the economic viability of their operations: the Agriculture Resource Development Loan Program (ARDL), and the Rural Rehabilitation Loan fund;
- FarmAID.org, a national organization that is equipped to helping farmers who are struggling with behavioral health issues and more at 800-FARM-AID; and
- Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition has a hotline and can direct to additional resources at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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