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Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline

Summary 
  • 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 2019, the helpline received 95 calls, and the website had nearly 4,600 visits.

Description

Helpline wallet card

The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline is a free, confidential helpline available 24/7 for farmers and farm families dealing with stress. Users can call the number or access the website for resources related to crisis intervention, daily living assistance, and business/legal help. The helpline is funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Services offered

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.

Results

In 2019, the website had nearly 4,600 visits. The helpline received:

  • 46 calls to Option 1, which connects to a phone counselor
  • 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.

Replication

Meg Moynihan feeding calf
Meg Moynihan, organic dairy farmer and MDA Senior Advisor of Strategy & Innovation. Photograph by Cory Ryan, courtesy of UMN School of Public Health

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 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 85 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. 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.

Contact Information

Meg Moynihan, Senior Advisor on Strategy & Innovation
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline
651.201.6616
meg.moynihan@state.mn.us

Topics
Farmers and farmworkers
Human services
Income support and assistance
Mental health
Stress and stress disorders
Suicide and suicide prevention

States served
Minnesota

Date added
April 17, 2019

Date updated or reviewed
June 5, 2020

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1056 [Accessed 22 October 2020]


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