Friday, April 20, 2018

Opinion: Helpful Resources for Farmers

by Cora Fox,  Center for Rural Affairs

Cora Fox, Center for Rural Affairs
Whether you are a beginning farmer or have been farming for 30 years, it is important to know resources are available to assist you in your farming venture – through education, technical assistance, mediation, or counseling.
Maybe you’d like financial counseling or support during land transitions, but aren’t sure where to go? Are you concerned about your farming operation or do you need mediation services?
The Center for Rural Affairs has compiled a list of well-established organizations to aid farmers in navigating these resources. While this list is not all-inclusive, it covers a wide array of services.
Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services, 800.321.FARM (800.321.3276), is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified program that has helped farmers and ranchers explore options through mediation as well as other financial and legal concerns. The program helps with appeal options for USDA adverse decisions, including farm loan delinquency and denial. Staff support producers with agricultural financial counseling and legal assistance.
Center for Rural Affairs, 402.687.2100,, operates a helpline with information on farm bill programs that can help farmers or ranchers get started or implement conservation programs. The staff makes referrals to organizations that may better address questions or concerns.
Farm Aid, 800.FARM.AID (800.327.6243),, connects farmers to resources with an online directory listing more than 750 organizations. Farm Aid also provides information on farm start-ups, sustainable agriculture, legal issues in farming, farm financing, and farm activism and organizing.
Michigan State University Extension, 517.279.4311,, has a free online program. “Weathering the Storm: How to Manage Stress on the Farm,” addresses signs and symptoms of chronic stress and helps farmers cope with challenges.
National Farmers Union, 202.554.1600,, plays an active role in the farm bill and works on grassroots-driven policy. They have connections with numerous farm organizations and make referrals.
Rural Response Hotline, 800.464.0258,, is available for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents to call. Staff makes referrals to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, other farmers, and mediation services, as needed. In addition, staff assists with stress, depression, or other mental health concerns.
National Center for Appropriate Technology, 800.346.9140,, provides information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, extension agents, and others involved in implementing sustainable agriculture practices. Specialists provide one-on-one technical assistance. Publications, webinars, and other resources are available.

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