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.
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.
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
49 calls to Option 3, which
connects to business/financial help
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
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
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
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.