Just last fall we were talking about the record number of farm bankruptcies due to low crop prices. Now, many farmers are suffering losses due to widespread floods throughout the Midwest caused by heavy snow and rain, and a significant number of farmers have lost their barns when the heavy snow caused the roofs to collapse. Farming is a business that is heavily depending on the weather, which is never easy to predict and impossible to control. Most farmers are familiar with risk management tools like crop insurance and diversification, but what do you do when everything goes wrong at once? This seems to be the question on the minds of many.
Fortunately, there is help. The following is a list of resources available to assist farmers facing these and many other challenges this spring, as compiled by the Minnesota Farmers Union:
Minnesota Department of Agriculture disaster recovery loan program. On March 19, 2019, the Rural Finance Authority Board issued a Disaster Declaration for Minnesota, which allows farmers to access this special loan program. The funds are available to farmers for expenses not covered by insurance.
University of Minnesota Extension has advice on how to safely handle damaged agricultural buildings.
Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline provides free, confidential counseling for farmers experience stress, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. The helpline is available 24/7 at 833-600-2670 x 1. Ted Matthews, a mental health counselor for farmers can be reached at 320-266-2390. Or, you can text “MN” to 741 741 to receive immediate assistance.
Mobile Crisis Team provides in-person, fast, short-term counseling for people experience a crisis or emergency. Each county in Minnesota has a different phone number to call.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a list of resources available for disaster assistance for farmers, including links to financial and technical assistance available through MDA, USDA, and Extension.