Sustaining Farms by Sustaining Farmers and Farm Families

Farming is not for the faint of heart. Farmers and farm families work long hours and face uncertain weather, input costs, and prices. 

The mission of Cooperative Extension includes supporting farmers and their families through research-based information and programming on agriculture and natural resources, child development, community development, and health. University of Georgia Extension is taking a holistic next step, by supporting farmer and farm family emotional health in addition to economic and physical health, through a new Behavioral Health Team (BHT).

The BHT includes Extension Specialists with expertise in childhood development, mental health, family relationships, substance misuse, women and veteran farmers, and stress and coping. It provides training and consultation on behavioral health topics to both Extension staff and to communities. 

One specific BHT initiative is the Farm Stress Production Meeting model, which infuses information on stress and coping into existing Extension production meetings. 300+ farmers have participated, and evaluation shows a significant shift in farmer attitudes towards stress. Two conferences, a Farm Stress Summit and AgrileadHer have provided information and virtual support on stress and coping to several hundred participants. Informed both by messaging research with growers and focus groups with farm wives, we have created fresh informational materials about farm stress and coping. A new blog, Thriving on the Farm, reinforces these messages through weekly posts about stress and coping. 

The BHT is another way Extension is committed to sustaining farms—by sustaining farmers—because a farmer is the most important asset of their farm. 

Scheyett, Anna. “Sustaining Farms by Sustaining Farmers and Farm Families.Southern Ag Today 3(29.5). July 21, 2023. Permalink