Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has expressed huge concern about the rising suicide cases amongst farmers in the state, thereby announcing that a $500,000 federal grant has been received to address the issue.

“Focusing on mental health is key to having a healthy agriculture community. Farmers face all sorts of physical risks in their day-to-day environment, but many don’t consider the incredible pressure on their mental well-being. This grant will enable the Department of Agriculture and our partners to help deliver resources to help our rural communities improve their health,” Quarles said.

The $500,000 grant will allow the KDA to work with the University of Louisville School of Nursing, The Southeast Center for Agricultural Health & Injury Prevention, and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, in a state-wide effort to help farmers and agriculture producers with strategies to aid mental health awareness.

Funding will be used to help the department expand its efforts as part of the “Raising Hope – Supporting Healthy Lives on Kentucky Farms” campaign. Itfocuses on improving the mental and physical health of agricultural producers and is a partnership with state universities and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The campaign is also supported by appropriations from the Kentucky General Assembly.

Through research, prevention, intervention and community education and outreach, the project’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for Kentucky’s agricultural producers. Increasing awareness of stress among farmers, along with reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues is one way to establish community-based support systems for those who need it.

He pointed out that it’s important to show appreciation of farmers and their families by realizing the positive impact they have on our communities.

There is a need to also address the mental health needs of farmers to reduce the physical injuries suffered on farms.

The new grant will fund initiatives in four areas: mental health resource awareness, youth outreach, farmer appreciation grants and development of a mobile web app.

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