Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline
- Need: To connect farmers in stress with needed resources.
- Intervention: The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline and website connect callers with counselors, help with daily living (like childcare or food assistance), and financial/legal advice.
- Results: In 2020, the helpline received 104 calls, and the website had more than 7,000 visits.
The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline is a free, confidential helpline for farmers and farm families dealing with stress. Users can call, text, or email a crisis counselor available 24/7 or use the website to access 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 child care, 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 time, but callers can leave a voicemail and receive a follow-up call the next day.
Users can also reach a counselor by texting "farmstress" to 898211 or by emailing email@example.com.
In 2020, the website landing page had more than 7,000 visits. The helpline received:
- 47 calls to Option 1, which connects to a phone counselor
Agencies and organizations in the state have promoted the Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline widely – distributing brochures, wallet cards, and refrigerator magnets at conferences and in producer mailings, and featuring it in their own communications to members and clients.
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 farm and commodity organizations, University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota State Farm Business Management program, Farmer-Lender Mediation, and Farmers' Legal Action Group.
The MDA hosts an email list where members can share information and resources. Currently, about 100 people participate. The MDA also partners with the Red River Farm Network to create the radio and podcast series TransFARMation.
Always promote your service. Refrigerator magnet clips that promote the helpline have been popular, as have wallet cards that are easy to carry. Rural and agriculture papers, farm radio, farm and commodity organizations, churches, USDA Farm Service Agency, and other partners have also been critical to getting the word out. Social media advertising, begun in 2021, seems to be particularly effective. In addition, keep state and local officials informed about the challenges that 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 use to cope with it, that can be very compelling.
While farmers need a variety of resources, they also need simple, clear paths to find what they are looking for. The helpline and website are not exhaustive – and that's by design.
Farmers and farmworkers
Income support and assistance
Stress and stress disorders
Suicide and suicide prevention
April 17, 2019
Date updated or reviewed
July 2, 2021
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2021. Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1056 [Accessed 18 September 2021]
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