A new $7 million USDA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grant will expand farmer suicide prevention work already taking place at Washington State University. Don McMoran with WSU Extension-Skagit County, said this will allow them to extend these vital resources to 13 western states and four U.S. territories. McMoran said many outside of the industry don’t appreciate that agriculture in the 21st century is a stressful profession.
“A lot of our farms are very highly leveraged, in that they have a great deal of debt, that they’ve incurred to maybe buy that property that’s been adjoining to the farm for all of those years or to expand and get that new technology, build that new barn, what have you. So, there’s a great deal of pressure that our farmers are under.”
McMoran noted his biggest goal is letting farmers know they understand the stresses that are faced daily and throughout the year, and they want to provide additional tools for the toolbox. He added as time marches on, it’s vital that farm country remove the current stigma associated with mental health.
In addition, McMoran noted they will use this money to help educate, especially younger farmers that the needed mental health resources are as close as their local extension office.
“It’s when they’ve done that internet search and they can’t find what they are looking for, they’re kind of using Extension as a last ditch option rather than the first line. So, brining success back to Extension that also helps all of the way down the line.”
McMoran added WSU’s resources allow farmers to talk with people who understand the ag industry and can talk one-on-one about the challenges producers face.
If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]