The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline is a free, confidential helpline available 24/7 for farmers and farm families dealing with stress. Users can call the number or access the website for resources related to crisis intervention, daily living assistance, and business/legal help. The helpline is funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
The helpline (833.600.2670) has three options when people call or visit the website:
- Option 1: Callers are immediately connected to staff and counselors trained in crisis intervention and active listening. If necessary, counselors can also transfer callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255).
- Option 2: This option connects callers who need help with daily living to 211, the United Way in their area. These callers might need resources like childcare, senior program services, food assistance, or help paying for utilities.
- Option 3: This option connects callers seeking business or legal help, such as financial counseling, mediation, or legal advice, to MDA staff. This option is answered 8:00-4:30 Central Standard Time, but callers can leave a voicemail and receive a follow-up call the next day.
From July 2018 to February 2019, the website had more than 1,300 unique visitors. In addition, the helpline received:
- 21 calls to Option 1, which connects callers to a counselor
- 36 calls to Option 3, which connects callers to business help
Coordinators have received positive feedback from people who work with farmers; these people expressed relief that they had a resource they could immediately share with farmers in distress.
Coordinate with other agricultural groups and organizations – share the responsibility, the cost, and the credit. MDA staff work with other organizations in the state, such as the Minnesota State Farm Business Management program, Farmer-Lender Mediation, and Farmers Legal Action Group. Program coordinators also started an email list where members can share information and resources. Currently, about 60 people have joined that list.
Always promote your service. Rural and agriculture papers, farm radio, farm and commodity organizations, churches, USDA Farm Service Agency, and other partners have been critical to getting the word out. In addition, keep state and local officials informed about the challenges farmers are facing and the efforts to help them. Farmers listen to other farmers, so if you can find some who are willing to share their experiences with stress and the strategies they used to cope with it, that can be very compelling.
While farmers need a variety of resources, they need simple, clear paths to find what they are looking for. The helpline and website are not exhaustive – and that’s by design.
Meg Moynihan, Senior Advisor of Strategy & Innovation
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline
Farmers and farmworkers
Income support and assistance
Stress and stress disorders
Suicide and suicide prevention