MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a trying time for farmers across the state.

The weather, low prices and a trade war have made for a challenging past couple of years. And 10% of Minnesota dairy farms have left the industry within the past year.

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“As much as we want to make it a business, it’s a way of life for a lot of folks. It’s easy to tie your life to what’s happening on the farm,” said Garen Paulson.

Paulson farms near Jackson, Minnesota with his dad and his son. While they were lucky to get most of their corn and soybeans planted this spring, he knows others weren’t as fortunate.

“Farmers are very independent. They think they can work through their problems on their own. But every once in a while you need somebody else to work through the problems,” said Paulson.

According to an American Farm Bureau Federation study, more than 90% of farmers say financial issues impact their mental health. Which is why the University of Minnesota Extension has created a Rural Stress Task Force. The task force connects farmers with resources if they simply need someone to talk with about their anxiety or stress. Resources that weren’t as available during the farm crisis of the early 80’s.

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“We have data here at the U of M that shows net farm profit as low as it was when we started collecting that data in the 1980’s,” said Megan Roberts, U of M Extension.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture announced this week that they’ve added another mental health specialist to their staff. They’re hoping that farmers get some good news soon, in the meantime they want them to know they’re not alone.

“If it’s something we don’t have a resource for, we can connect to outside resources as well,” said Roberts.

Through the U of M’s Rural Stress Task Force, people who live in mining and logging communities, as well as communities battling the opioid crisis, can also seek help.

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To learn more click here or contact the U of M Farm Information Call-in at 1-800-232-9077.

John Lauritsen