Farm

It’s going to take happy, mentally healthy farmers to keep Wisconsin strong.

The number of Wisconsin dairy farms has decreased from 167,000 in 1930 to 7,700 as of 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That number could be due to many factors -- among them being mental health.

In an effort to address mental health among farmers, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is offering assistance through the Wisconsin Farm Center.

The center is hosting a series of “Question, Persuade, Refer” virtual training sessions for agriculture service providers, farmers and the agricultural community.

In case you didn’t know, QPR is an intervention method designed to help trainees identify and interrupt mental-health crisis situations and direct individuals to proper care.

Although there is no cost to attend the sessions, registration is required. To register, go the Farm Center webpage: FarmCenter.wi.gov.

Dates for QPR virtual trainings are:

• Wednesday, July 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

• Thursday, Aug. 27, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

• Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 21, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

All of the sessions will be facilitated by Jeff Ditzenberger, a certified QPR trainer and agriculture/mental health advocate, farmer, and member of many ag-related organizations.

While it is surprising that people need to be specially trained to recognize a mental-health crisis, it is serious that this is being offered among the state’s farmers.

The first step in the road to recovery, or so the saying goes, is to admit there’s a problem. It is more than likely that this problem will need more than recognition and training, but every journey begins with a single step.

We hope our valued farmers realize the availability of the Farm Center, which offers services for free and confidentially.

Farmers and agribusinesses can contact the center’s toll-free Helpline at 1-800-942-2474, or visit datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Wisconsin_Farm_Center/index.aspx.

It’s going to take happy, healthy farmers to keep Wisconsin strong.

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