Free Online Course Helps Farmers, Ranchers Cope with Stress

USFR 062720 - From the Farm
As stress mounts across farm country, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union launched a free online course to help producers learn the signs of stress and tools to manage it. ( AgWeb )

Stress on farms is mounting. As producers wade through the challenges of 2020, it’s taking a toll on farm families across the U.S.

“We have people all over the country who deal directly with farmers and Farm Credit, and we're hearing a lot of stress out there,” says Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of Farm Credit Council.

A magnitude of factors is adding to anxiety, he says, which is acting as a heavy weight on farmers’ and ranchers’ mental health.

“If it wasn't low commodity prices, it was disastrous weather, it was uncertain trade, and now the pandemic,” Van Hoose says.

All of those challenges are now snowballing for producers, and it’s adding pressure on farm families, many of whom are trying to learn how to cope with it all. Now as U.S. farmers are facing a possible record crop this year, fear about commodity prices staying under a farmer’s cost of production is adding another layer of stress.

“The marketing situation is just so uncertain,” Van Hoose says. “Overall demand and the supply chains are breaking. All of that is taking a toll, and then this pandemic is isolating people.”

As stress and anxiety continue to grow, Farm Credit is teaming up with National Farmers Union (NFU) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) to help agriculture recognize the signs of stress.

“One of the misconceptions is we all thought most of the mental health problems were in urban America,” says Zippy Duvall, president of AFBF. “When we've done our surveys, we found was a tremendous amount of mental health problems out in rural America – two out of five farmers didn't really know whether or not they could find help or where to go to get help.”

Access to mental healthcare can be sparse in rural areas, so the groups say providing stress management tools for farmers is essential this year.

“There comes a point where you need some help, and so we set up a program,” Van Hoose says. “It's a stress technique program and mental health awareness program, all online, all private. You can go to our website (, and right there on the front of the website, you can click a button, and it can give you a course.”

He says the course takes about three hours in total, but it’s an in-depth program to help farmers identify signs of stress, understand the resources and then find coping strategies that work for them. The course is free.

The online resources are something Duvall hopes can provide a message of hope and help.

“We all know it’s going to get better, but can we get through until it gets better,” says Duvall. “That's the most difficult thing. We all know it’s going to get better. How do we get there? And how do we keep our minds healthy to be able to get to that point? We're here to help you.”

To view the free online course and learn coping strategies that work for you, sign up today with this link.