MDARD provides a one-time grant opportunity to combat agricultural stress

Updated 2 years ago on October 17, 2022

LANSING, MI - The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) today awarded Michigan State University, in partnership with Easterseals, a $225,000 grant for a one-time 2022 farm stress management program to expand Michigan's farm stress management program and provide additional assistance to those employed in agriculture, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations.

"As Michigan's agriculture industry continues to create new economic opportunities for food and agriculture businesses, we recognize the growing need for updated resources and educational programs to help support the mental health of our farmers and their families," said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. "At MDARD, we want to support the economic development of not only the businesses, but also the people of Michigan who work so hard day in and day out in our industry."

The project seeks to initiate, expand, or sustain programs that provide professional behavioral health counseling in farming and referrals to other types of assistance. The purpose of this funding, provided under Act 87 of 202, is to proactively address stress and mental health issues on farms through farm business programs that include farm resource management to prevent or alleviate farm loss, consolidation and succession.

Michigan State University and Easterseals will use the funding to expand education, resources and guidance for farmers, their families and agribusiness professionals through online options to develop communication skills and learn how to identify and manage stress.

"Educational programs can strengthen mental health knowledge, including warning signs of stress and suicide, and help people develop communication skills and help-seeking behaviors," says Cheryl L. Eschbach, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health and Nutrition at the University of Michigan Extension .

"Easterseals Michigan is excited to partner with MSU to provide services and support to meet the growing mental health needs of farmers and their families in Michigan. Together, we've been providing rehabilitation services and adaptive equipment through our AgrAbility program to keep farmers engaged in agriculture, and now we can complement services with holistic solutions to farmers' mental health issues," said Brent Wirth, president and CEO of Easterseals.

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