Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Secures $500,000 to Bolster Stress and Mental Health Assistance for Maine Farmers
November 10, 2021
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
AUGUSTA- Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Amanda Beal recently announced $500,000 in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to provide stress assistance and mental health resources for agricultural producers across the state. The DACF received the grant through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The grant will be used to support the Maine Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network (Maine FRSAN). Through a program with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the DACF's Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources will use the funding to amplify existing provisions for mental health and farm stress.
"The pandemic, droughts, supply chain disruptions, and labor challenges are creating heightened levels of stress in our agriculture community," said Beal. "We are committed to doing more to increase awareness and access to existing resources and finding new ways to help people to cope with stress and mental health challenges."
The Maine FRSAN project will begin in December, providing direct service for farmers in immediate need, referral for those anticipating conflict or stressors, and broadening the audience of providers who understand the agricultural community's needs. Participants can receive a direct connection to mental health counseling, financial support to buy adaptive equipment, assistance with workplace conflict, and referral for a business consultation. A wellness fund will directly support over 200 farmers, helping make wellness resources financially accessible. Organizations serving traditionally marginalized communities will directly receive small grants to support their programming. The Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust will develop a professional development program serving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who aspire to cultivate land in Maine and other northeast states.
The program will be coordinated with existing networks like the Maine Farmer Resource Network to provide access to training and avoid duplication of programs.
Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can connect with specialists in your area by calling:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7, 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Maine 211
- FarmAid, 800-327-6243 (M-F 9a-10p)
- Maine Warmline, 866-771- WARM (9276)