Wisconsin farmers getting a boost to help cope with stress

The dairy industry just cannot seem to get up on its feet right now.

“There are certainly those states and localities that are hit worse than others,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin said.

Wisconsin is one of them.

The state has lost more than 300 dairy farms from January through May of this year.

“Right now we’re losing them at the rate of about three per day,” Baldwin said.

And it’s causing many farmers a lot of stress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says farmers and other agricultural workers are experiencing high suicide rates.

“Sadly often don’t reach out for help when they’re trying to manage the stress that is facing the industry right now,” Baldwin said.

So Baldwin recently announced eight million dollars worth of federal funding to give farmers mental health resources as a part of her Farmers First Act.

“It’s really an all community response to something that hits us really, really hard in Wisconsin with the stress that agriculture and dairy specifically are facing,” Baldwin said.

La Crosse County Agriculture extension Educator Kaitlyn Lance works in farm management.

“Part of that is helping farms out with management decisions,” Lance said. “So some of those programs could even be farm succession or farm transition.”

She says she is no stranger when it comes to helping stressed out farmers.

“I don’t get questions like straight off the bat like ‘hey, I’m struggling,'” Lance said. “But usually a lot of those conversations end with ‘I need help in other ways besides the question I called you for.'”

Baldwin says something needs to be done to address the crisis.

“Anything we can do that provides relief, that provides support and helps people cope with financial stress and other stress is a step in the right direction.”

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