Grant To Expand Stress-Related Services For Vermont Farmers

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A federal grant will help to expand stress-related and mental health services for Vermont farmers, the state agency of agriculture said.

The $500,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant will help to build on the programs of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, Northeast, officials said last week.

“The health and wellness of our farmers is critical, and this grant will grow the state’s ability to connect with and assist this vital group of Vermonters,” said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

The state program Farm First is a member of the network.

The expanded service will include an outreach program to all farms on the issues of stress and services available. There will also be training for agricultural service providers to help them identify and communicate with farmers experiencing stress and connect them with services through Farm First, officials said.

Farm First will develop a peer support network of farmers and expand coordinated service to farmers, sending out a farm coordinator and trained counselors and expand follow-up services to 12 visits, the agency said.

“Vermont farmers and farmhands have difficult jobs even in the best of times,” said Mike Smith, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services. “So, when family, health, or business problems crop up - as they inevitably do for all of us - our farmers need access to supports so that they aren’t left to deal with these challenges in isolation.”