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KVNF Farm Friday: AgWell

Lisa Young
KVNF Farm Friday

A study published in 2020 revealed the suicide rate for farmers, ranchers, and ag managers was 43.7 per 100,000 population, a rate much higher than that of the overall population and the 6th highest rate among occupational groups.

In addition, researchers at the University of Iowa found that farmers, and others in the agricultural trade, had the highest suicide rate of all occupations from 1992 to 2010. The rate was 3.5 times higher than the general population.

On today’s KVNF Farm Friday Clinton Wilson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, talks about AgWell, a program focusing on the mental health of Colorado ag producers.

Wilson says there’s a number of bills moving through the state legislature aimed to make mental health easier to access resources.

One bill, SB24-055 creates a behavioral health liaison position in the Behavioral Health Administration. The position would work with the department of agriculture as well as behavioral health-care providers, rural community leaders, agricultural communities, and nonprofit organizations that serve agricultural communities. In addition to ongoing legislation, the state offers vouchers for mental health care.

Wilson says stressors for ag producers are as varied as the farmer or rancher. Among some of the more common stressors are seasonal challenges around planting, calving, lambing, harvest time or even during the winter time.

Ag producers needing help can call 9-8-8 for immediate help, contacting the AgriStress Network, AgriSafe.org or the CAAMPH program.

Lisa was born in Texas but grew up on a small farm in Olathe, Colorado and considers herself a “Colorado native after six years of age.” Lisa has seven years experience in media, beginning as a News Director for a small radio station on the Eastern Plains. Following her initial radio career, Lisa worked as a staff reporter for The Journal Advocate in Sterling, Colorado and most recently as a staff reporter for the Delta County Independent. Lisa is thrilled to join the award-winning News and Public Affairs team at KVNF.