By Cora Fox, former staff member
Sometimes farmers need a helping hand. Maybe you’d like financial counseling, or support during land transition, but aren’t sure where to go? Are you concerned about your farming operation or need mediation services?
Whether you are a beginning farmer or have been farming for 30 years, it is important to know what resources are available to assist you in your farming venture. There are many resources available, but it can be cumbersome to sort through them all.
The Center for Rural Affairs has been working to compile a list of well-established organizations to aid farmers in navigating these resources. We interviewed organizations that we have worked with in the past, and asked for recommendations of other organizations to reach out to. While this list is not all-inclusive of every resource available, it covers a wide array of services.
The following organizations work diligently to serve farmers and ranchers, whether it be through education, technical assistance, mediation, or counseling. Feel free to reach out to these organizations with any questions you may have – they are here to help you!
Center for Rural Affairs
The Center for Rural Affairs operates a farmer helpline to answer questions regarding farm bill programs that can help you get started in farming or ranching as beginners, implement conservation programs, or even transition to organic farming.
Through work with an established network of farm organizations, the Center for Rural Affairs also makes referrals to other organizations that may better address the question or concern of the farmer.
Community Crops, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, started as one community garden in 2003. Community Crops now includes 12 community garden sites, a training farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and more.
Low-income farmers or aspiring farmers from urban areas are able to rent low-cost land and tools on the Community Crops farm. Community Crops also provides 12-week courses during the winter to address a variety of topics, including: business planning, technical production assistance, seed-saving, crop planning, irrigation systems, food safety, etc.
Farm Aid has an extensive network across the United States and is able to connect farmers to the best resources in their local area. The Farm Aid Online Directory includes more than 750 organizations with resources to assist farmers in a variety of areas. Farm Aid has also developed a series of Farmer Resource Guides, providing valuable information on farm start-ups, sustainable agriculture, legal issues in farming, farm financing, farm activism and organizing, etc.
Iowa Concern is a source of help for Iowans in the following areas: legal issues, finance, stress, and crisis/disaster. Farmers in need can call the hotline or use the live chat function to speak with an expert 24/7. Using the Iowa State University Extension network, Iowa Concern information can be found in all 99 counties.
Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services (KAMS)
Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services (KAMS) is an official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified state agricultural mediation program for Kansas. For more than 30 years, KAMS has helped farmers and ranchers explore options through mediation as well as other financial and legal concerns they might have. KAMS helps with appeal options for USDA adverse decisions: farm loan delinquency, denial, or adverse decisions for USDA farm programs. Also, KAMS helps producers prepare for mediation through support services such as agricultural financial counseling and legal assistance. Talk to an attorney over the phone at no cost.
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension prides itself as a program created for farmers by people with farming background. Its free and self-paced online course, “Weathering the Storm: How to Manage Stress on the Farm,” addresses the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and helps farmers cope with the challenges they may face.
Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU)
The Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) is a founding member of the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline. NeFU plays an active role in the farm bill and works on grassroots driven policy. Through their work, NeFU has developed well-established connections with various farm organizations, and is able to make referrals for any farm questions they may receive.
Nebraska Rural Response Hotline
The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline is a primary service provided by the Rural Response Council through Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska. Farmers, ranchers, and rural residents can call the hotline and speak directly to an experienced staff person. With an extensive network, staff are able to assist over the phone and also make referrals to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, other farmers, and mediation services as needed.
In addition, staff can assist callers with stress, depression, or other mental health concerns through the COMHT (Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy) Program.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) mission is to help people by championing small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.
NCAT’s ATTRA Program is committed to providing high-value information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, extension agents, educators, and others involved in implementing sustainable agriculture practices in the U.S. ATTRA specialists are available to provide one-on-one technical assistance and can be reached via the ATTRA Helpline, email, and through live online chat features. ATTRA publications, webinars, online tutorials, podcasts, and other resources are available on the ATTRA website.
Wisconsin Farm Center
Wisconsin Farm Center operates a helpline, assists farmers through one-on-one consultations on the farm, and offers mediation services. Core programs include: farm financial consultations; succession planning in organics, livestock, specialty crops, and grazing; minority farmers outreach; and mediation and counseling vouchers.
We’re here to help farmers. If you have any questions for the Center for Rural Affairs, contact us at email@example.com or 402.687.2100.