The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced Thursday they have been federally granted $500,000, after applying through the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network program, to expand mental health services for Iowa farmers. They plan to partner with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to raise awareness for mental health and wellness programs, as well as making these programs more accessible to smaller, rural communities.

“We all need help from time to time and farmers and landowners are no exception. Some of the challenges they face are unique, like long-term financial stress, unpredictable weather, and market uncertainty. We want anyone dealing with added stress and mental health challenges to know that they are not alone. We are proud to partner with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help make mental health and wellness resources more accessible to farmers and our rural communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig.

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff will now have the chance to offer community outreach and mental health programs to those involved in agriculture through this grant. They will also place focus on facilitator training for programs focused on strengthening families.

“While commodity prices have improved over the last year, the derecho a year ago and the drought that has spanned both years has impacted many Iowa farmers. These resources can help farmers and farm families deal with the added stress,” said  Iowa State University vice president for extension and outreach, John Lawrence, “Those who work with farmers will have access to tools to help them recognize mental health concerns and offer appropriate assistance.”

The grant will also support a “Relationships Can Heal: Knowing the Farmer Client” Program, held in collaboration with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the University of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. The program will focus on why mental health professionals need to know more about farmers and agriculture.

Farmers and their families can find more details about the programs and resources offered through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach at iastate.edu/humansciences/mental-health-and-wellbeing and iastate.edu/sfp.

LOOK: Just some of the photos that capture the historic year that was 2020