WASHINGTON—County and state Farm Bureau leaders across the nation are sharing resources that will help farmers keep safety top of mind through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program. March 6-10 has been designated Agricultural Safety Awareness Week.
Under the theme “Lead the Way in Agriculture,” the American Farm Bureau Federation and U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers will highlight a different safety focus each day of the week:
Monday – Mental health
Tuesday – Preventive health care
Wednesday – Safety culture
Thursday – Situational awareness
Friday – Temperature-related safety
ASAP is a product of the Farm Bureau Health and Safety Network, whose members share an interest in identifying and decreasing safety and health risks.
“Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has a long history of working to ensure safety is a priority on our farms,” said Dana Fisher, chair of the VFBF Farm Safety Advisory Committee. “We’re proud to continue supporting members of our agricultural communities in their efforts to save lives and prevent injuries and lost time on the job.”
VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor said the organization has been focusing on the mental health of farmers and other rural Virginians in recent years because farming can be a stressful occupation. Studies show there is increased risk for suicide, substance use disorder and depression among these groups.
“When you add complications from the pandemic to natural disasters, financial pressures, fluctuating commodity prices, labor shortages, trade disruptions and supply chain interruptions and resulting price increases, it’s no surprise that more farmers and their families are experiencing stress and mental health concerns,” Pryor said. “If you—or someone you know—need help, I encourage you to talk to someone.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched the AgriStress Helpline to provide Virginia’s agricultural producers with 24/7 mental health support. Farmers can call or text 833-897-2474 to speak directly with a healthcare professional.
“The AgriStress Helpline for Virginia is specifically geared to those in the state’s agricultural community who are seeking mental health support,” said Matthew Lohr, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry. “A call or text will put them in contact with trained professionals who can offer support and help find mental health resources in a specific area of the state.”
Other farm safety resources can be found at vafb.com/Safety. For more information, visit the ASAP Facebook page, or the centers’ YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/USagCenters.