Multiple challenges contributing to high farm stress levels; Free workshops teach ag advisors to reach out

Credits: Alauna Yust, MDA Communications, 651-201-6629 or

Release Date: February 13, 2018

Categories: Area Media Stories Media Release

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will offer “Down on the Farm: Supporting Farmers in Stressful Times” trainings in January, February, and March. The professional development workshop will be offered in six different cities across Minnesota; it is designed to help people who work with farmers on a regular basis recognize and respond when they see farmers experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and other challenges.

“I farmed for over 20 years and know firsthand the toll that stress and anxiety can take on your well-being,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Farmers are notoriously self-reliant, but sometimes the number of things they have to deal with simultaneously becomes overwhelming. We designed these workshops to help professionals respond to farmers’ unique stresses.”

The three-hour workshops are free and will be held at Riverland Community College's Austin Campus on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. in the West Builiding, Room A237.

The MDA invites agency staff, bankers, veterinarians, crop consultants, clergy, social service and health care professionals, agriculture educators, and others who work with farmers to attend.

The main presenter will be Ted Matthews, a psychologist who has worked with farmers and farm families statewide for more than 20 years and has led several state and federal crisis response efforts. Randy Willis from the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Michele Page from the Farm Service Agency in Minnesota, and Meg Moynihan from the MDA (who is also a dairy farmer) will join Matthews to deliver the training.

Participants will learn to recognize signs of mental and emotional distress and crisis, use active listening skills, and find local and regional resources available to farmers, and will improve their confidence in delivering difficult information to farmers in stressful situations. Continuing education credits are available.
Registration is now open at For more information, including a printable workshop brochure, visit or call 651-201-6012.

Thanks to support from generous partners, all trainings are free to participants. Sponsors include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Compeer Financial, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Minnesota State AgCentric and Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture, Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, and OCIA MN #1.