For many Minnesota farmers, 2018 was a tough year financially, but free, confidential help is available for those who are struggling.

A variety of programs for financially distressed farmers are available through the University of Minnesota Extension Service and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Services such as farmer-lender mediation, mental health hotlines and teams and farm financial counseling are offered.

For many farmers, asking for help is incredibly difficult, said Bev Durgan, Extension dean, “but we also know that sometimes the help available in programs through Extension and MDA can make a difference for farmers, both in their operations and their well-being.”

“We recognize that farmers are under all kinds of pressure right now,” said Dave Frederickson, Minnesota agriculture commissioner. “That’s why we want to make sure farmers – and farm family members – know where they can get help when they need it.”

Available resources include:

• Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline, 833-600-2570, ext.1. Free, confidential, 24 hours and seven days a week. Calls are answered by trained staff and volunteers in Minnesota. Call if you or someone you know is struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to somebody you don’t know.

• Minnesota Farm Advocates has been supported by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture since 1984. There is no charge or fee. Farm advocates share their expertise and help farmers understand lender policies, bankruptcy laws, mediation, tax laws, USDA’s Farm Service Agency’s loan programs, Farm Credit Services and all other government programs affecting agriculture.

• Farmers can find information and referrals for mental health counseling, financial counseling, mediation and many others at www.minnesotafarmstress.com.

• The U of M Extension Service offers free, confidential one-to-one counseling for farmers experiencing financial stress. To set up a confidential appointment with an experienced Extension farm financial analyst, call the Farm Information Line at 1-800-232-9077.

• Farmer-Lender Mediation (FLM) is an Extension program that provides trained, neutral mediators work to find solutions to financial issues between farmers and their lenders. The mediation is confidential. More is available by calling 218-935-5785.

• The Women in Ag Network is an Extension program that seeks to connect women to relevant, research-based education and each other.

For more information about these resources, visit www.extension.umn.edu.