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January 22, 2024
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall announced a new peer-to-peer support tool to address mental health and wellness needs in the agriculture community. AFBF is partnering with the Family Farm Wellness Alliance to provide the service that will be available for free to farm families across the country. The bureau is also launching a mental health campaign with Ad Council focusing on mental health in rural America. That campaign will include testimonials from AFBF members.
Both new initiatives are intended to complement the bureau’s Farm State of Mind platform which also aims to assist farmers struggling with mental wellness. According to AFBF data, suicide rates among farmers are up to five times higher than the national average.
“Farming is tough, even on the best days,” Duvall said Sunday during the opening general session of the AFBF annual convention in Salt Lake City. “It can be lonely especially with all the pressure we face. It takes courage to speak up when you need help, and it also takes courage to reach out to others when they are hurting.”
The peer-to-peer support system, called Togetherall, is a clinically moderated community offering support to struggling farmers. Users can reach the service through an anonymous profile. There they can access additional services to help with issues like anxiety, depression, financial health and insomnia.
The program is an expansion of a Family Farm Wellness Alliance pilot program started in Iowa in 2020 after the state suffered significant damage from a derecho. The program was expanded to Illinois in 2021.
The Family Farm Wellness Alliances is a coalition of multiple ag groups including AFBF, Farm Credit, CoBank, Iowa Farm Bureau, CHS, Land O’Lakes, National Farmers Union, 4-H, FFA, Agriculture Future of America, and Personal Assistance Services.
“Fewer resources exist in rural areas as compared to urban areas,” Farm Credit Council president and CEO Todd Van Hoose says. “This free, anonymous, and safe access to mental health support offers assistance in a way nothing has before for rural Americans.”
Policy editor, Farm Progress
Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.
Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.
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