Chilly temperatures, blowing winds and the occasional snowfall can only mean one thing: winter is here and in full force. Mother Nature may be a stress of the winter season, but with it comes the stress of frozen equipment, challenging chore times and added maintenance across the farm. It’s not a secret that the winter season can put a damper on anybody’s mood.
Stress in farming comes from much more than just the tillage of soil and harvest of crops. An aging population, advances in technology, meeting consumer demands and viewpoints on immigration and trade are all stress points new to the farmer’s basket of concerns. As farmers get ready for one of the most stressful yet joyous times of year, it is important to remember resources that are available. One such resource is the Wisconsin Farm Center.
The Farm Center, which is a part of Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), offers seven core services to those who seek their assistance:
- Financial planning – This program assists farmers with cash flow analyses , completing farm feasibility or debt analyses, creating a business plan or helping with debt restructuring.
- Farm transitions – In an industry that is predominately an aging population, farmers can receive assistance in all aspects of farm succession planning from business planning to entry and exit strategies. The Farm Center provides supports throughout the transition process while also identifying options for the parties involved in the transfer.
- Conflict mediation – In sticky situations, the Farm Center is available for dispute resolution with creditors, family members neighbors, partners and other agencies by assigning trained mediators to access and assist the situation.
- Herd-based diagnostics – The Farm Center has program veterinarian services and related lab work to help address issues that may be having impact of overall herd health.
- Energy-related issues – For farmers with energy and electrical issues, the Farm Center helps identify rewiring assistance, address power quality, work with the utility and address renewable energy questions.
- Minority farmer outreach – In an industry with a high percentage of immigrant labor, the Farm Center has services to minimize language and cultural boundaries, access resources for farm investments, business planning and risk management.
- Counseling services – To combat mental health issues in the agriculture field, the Farm Center helps identify low or no-cost counseling options for farmers and their families when needed.
The Wisconsin Farm Center is a no cost, confidential consultation for any challenge, opportunity or barrier facing farmers. They have an experienced, dedicated staff that receives, on average, 2,000 calls per year from farmers of all walks of agriculture.
Times are really changing, and it is no different in the agriculture industry. Recent events in the state’s dairy industry have taught us that it is important not to take our markets for granted. Farmers are being called upon, now more than ever, to communicate and inform the public about the products they produce. Farming has become both a business and personal industry that presents personal, physical and mental challenges each and every day.
As we endure these cold winter days and nights, be mindful of your mental health and never be afraid to reach out for assistance when it is needed. The Wisconsin Farm Center’s toll-free hotline is available weekdays from 7:45a.m. to 4:30p.m. at 1-800-942-2474, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cassie Olson serves as the District 4 Coordinator for Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. She works with members in Eau Claire, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Monroe, Monroe and La Crosse counties. Cassie enjoys writing about agricultural topics and photography.