Stress overview photo

As the ag economy continues to struggle, farmers are seeking help from several sources, including counselors, lenders and the clergy. Most appear to be weathering the economic storm, but for many others, there is still darkness at the end of the tunnel.

How do you handle stress that comes with a down economy, crop failure and looming debt? How do you help others through it?

A three-day summit in Oacoma, South Dakota is focused on working through individual stress and how to provide support to people dealing with stress.

Farmers and ranchers, as well as those in support positions such as counselors, bankers, consultants, clergy, crop insurance agents and other business members are encouraged to attend South Dakota Farm and Ranch Stress Summit, which takes place Sept. 23-25 at the Arrowwood Cedar Shore Resort & Conference Center in Oacoma.

The South Dakota State University Extension Rural Behavioral Health Team is partnering with the South Dakota Counselors Association (SDCA) to host the summit with hopes of engaging in conversations that will strengthen South Dakota communities.

Day 1 will feature a nationally recognized keynote speaker, Michael Rosmann, president of Rosmann and Associates and executive director of Agri Wellness Inc. SDSU Extension’s workshop for producers, “Weathering the Storm” will accompany several other breakout sessions throughout the day as well.

Day 2 will provide tools for counselors, those in ag-related businesses, and community members on how to recognize and aid those in the agricultural community experiencing chronic stress. A workshop, “Communicating with Farmers Under Stress,” will be provided by SDSU Extension specialists.

Day 3 will focus on an eight-hour training, Mental Health First Aid, for individuals across our agriculture and community landscapes. Mental Health First Aid training is an evidence-based public education and prevention tool to improve the public’s knowledge of mental health and substance problems and connect people with care for their mental health or substance use problems.

For more information about the summit, contact Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Specialist by email or at 605.782.3290, or Krista Ehlert, SDSU Extension State Range Specialist, by email, or at 605.394.2236 or Andrea Bjornestad, SDSU Extension State Mental Health Specialist, by email, or at 605.688.5125.

Register online for the Summit at the and search by South Dakota Farm and Ranch Stress Summit. The cost ranges from $5 for an evening session on Weathering the Storm to $25 for daytime sessions to $60 for mental health first-aid training.

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