Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both D-Minn, announced Thursday, Oct. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $480,000 to fund a project to give farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses the tools they need to deal with economic and emotional stress brought on by the difficult farm economy.
The funding will allow the University of Minnesota Extension to partner with seven other cooperative extension services in the Upper Midwest to develop online resources people can turn to for help. It will also help expand programs including stress assistance classes, a stress assistance hotline and prescription drug abuse education.
According to a news release, Minnesota agriculture is facing significant challenges, leaving many folks feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The median net farm income was $26,055 in 2018, according to the University of Minnesota Extension -- the lowest since the school started collecting data -- and trade uncertainty continues to hurt markets and bottom lines.
“Our farmers in Minnesota have experienced a lot in the past year -- from flooding impacting their ability to plant and harvest crops, uncertainty with export markets and ongoing trade disputes, and low prices across the board. That’s why these grants are so critical in helping ensure that they have access to important stress assistance programs,” Klobuchar stated in the release. “We must continue to advocate for our farmers and ensure that they can sustain their livelihood for generations to come.”
“We need to find solutions to help people living in Minnesota’s farming and rural communities during this climate of uncertainty, and that includes helping folks manage any financial and emotional stress they may be facing,” Smith stated in the release. “I fought to reauthorize funding to support projects like this during the 2018 Farm Bill because I’m committed to being a partner in helping lift up the ag community during hard times.”