Educators throughout the state are talking to farmers, hosting meetings, sharing resources.
Educators throughout the state are talking to farmers, hosting meetings, sharing resources
Farmers throughout Michigan are struggling with an unprecedented amount of rainfall this spring that has resulted in a historically low planting pace. Michigan State University Extension has developed resources for farmers to deal with financial and emotional challenges. Educators throughout the state have created programming and resources designed to help farmers deal with the logistical, financial and personal implications of these difficult circumstances.
Resources surrounding topics including delayed planting decisions, emergency forage options, financial management and stress management can be found at extension.msu.edu/delayedplanting.
In addition, MSU Extension has partnered with agricultural organizations throughout the state to lead discussions around the state, drawing hundreds of farmers looking for help, learning about their needs and sharing important resources.
“The crisis facing Michigan agriculture right now is acute, and we hear heartbreaking stories every day from our educators who work with farmers,” said Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension. “That is why we are committed to meeting the needs of Michigan farmers, the true backbone of our economy and communities throughout the state, with the latest research and education. These families need support now more than ever.”
To meet the ever-changing needs and circumstances, the MSU Extension website is continually updated with the latest news on agricultural conditions and options. Available resources take the form of news articles, podcasts, webinars, activity guides and videos. MSU Extension is also hosting weekly virtual breakfasts, online discussions about soil fertility and weed control, disease and insect management. MSU Extension has prioritized information specific to the wet season and is directing people to resources if they or their neighbors are struggling.
The MSU Extension Delayed Planting Resources site also features an online question submission tool where farmers can submit an inquiry. Questions are distributed to MSU Extension’s statewide network of educators who provide answers using the latest scientific research and information available.
As farmers cope with the damaging physical conditions, the situation continues to take a toll on farmers and farmworkers emotional health. MSU Extension has been delivering workshops across the state since 2016 to farmers, farm families, and professionals who work with farmers about to help them recognize the signs of stress and suicide, and provide strategies to communicate with others in times of distress. Twelve informational sheets and activity guides from the MSU Extension farm stress management programs are now available online at no cost. These tools can help people begin to tackle important financial issues including understanding credit and debt and creating a spending plan, as well as emotional health issues such as recognizing stress in youth on the farm, responding to the opioid crisis in farming communities and talking to farmers under stress.
“It’s essential that we are attentive to the mental health impact of a variety of stressors to farmers, including weather,” said Cheryl Eschbach, director of health and nutrition programming for MSU Extension. “Each day of rain impacts planting decisions, and it also impacts the emotional health of farmers and farm families in Michigan. We need to support them to make decisions and to seek help when distressed. We also want to teach others how to support farmers under stress.”
For more information about the MSU Extension Managing Farm Stress program, visit extension.msu.edu/farmstress/. To access the suite of resources and information available from MSU Extension, visit extension.msu.edu.