FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 5, 2019
Jessica Manly, Communications Director, National Young Farmers Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-643-3564 x 722
Allen Matthews, Farm First, email@example.com
Jennifer Fahy, Farm Aid, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Young Farmers Coalition, Farm Aid, and Vermont Farm First Receive Funding to Build Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network in Northeast
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Young Farmers Coalition, Farm Aid, and Vermont Farm First are honored to receive $480,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the establishment of a Farm Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) in the Northeast Region. This program will improve behavioral health awareness, literacy, access, and outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers in the Northeast.
Farmers in the Northeast face unique stressors and signs of increased farmer stress are apparent. To address these mental health challenges, this program, Building an Inclusive and Comprehensive Network for Farm And Ranch Stress Assistance in the Northeast, will; convene a network of farmer service providers in the region to build connection and collaboration, gather resources, and provide feedback on regional needs; develop an online clearinghouse to share available resources and referrals with farmers and service providers; and train service providers on the network, available resources, and best practices for working with farmers under stress. FRSAN was established in the 2018 Farm Bill to develop a network that assists farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with stress management and offers a pathway for improving mental health awareness and access for farmers and their families. The funding distributed through NIFA was awarded to four regional entities to help launch the network in the North Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western regions.
“Farmers are providing a critical public service to our communities, but many are struggling. We’re glad that the USDA is awarding funding to support the well-being of our nation’s farmers through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network program. Over the next year, we’ll work with our partners, Farm Aid and Vermont Farm First, to convene our region’s behavioral health experts, farm service providers, and farming communities so that the Northeast can provide better access and resources for mental health as well as address the economic factors that weigh heavily on our farm communities,” said Martin Lemos, the National Young Farmers Coalition’s Co-Executive Director.
“Since 1985, Farm Aid has connected farmers to resources that help them stay on the land. We are grateful that with the establishment of FRSAN, Congress has recognized the urgent need for federal support of this work. Building farmer-centered stress assistance models is crucial, particularly now as farmers struggle with farm income that has been cut in half and rural communities suffer from a lack of mental health resources. Family farmers are essential for all of us and we must prioritize their well-being. Farm Aid is proud to put our experience to work, in partnership with Young Farmers and Vermont Farm First, to develop resources and increase access to tools that strengthen farmers in the Northeast,” said Alicia Harvie, Farm Aid’s Advocacy & Farmer Services Director.
According to Farm First coordinator Allen Matthews, “Farm First is a benefit providing counseling and resource referrals for farmers similar to services many workplaces provide for their employees called an employee assistance program.”
The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is a national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for a brighter future for agriculture.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised $57 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.
Farm First’s mission is to assist farmers and their families to address challenges unique to making a living in agriculture by providing resources and confidential counseling. We know that if left unaddressed, stress correlates with chronic health, safety, family and business problems. Consulting with a Farm First counselor or resource specialist, located statewide, can help farmers to resolve problems before they mushroom into debilitating situations.