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Outcomes and Impacts of the Strengthening Health and Farm Vitality Forums

The Developing a Coordinated Community Risk Management Approach to Health and Health Insurance among Farm Enterprises team organized and hosted “Strengthening Health and Farm Vitality” forums in each of their respective states, bringing together representatives from the agriculture, health and mental health, insurance, and financial sectors to engage in discussions about healthcare issues facing rural populations and the farming community.

At each forum, participants were encouraged to develop short-term, collaborative efforts to address the issues discussed, which have already resulted in several outcomes and impacts:

  • A team at the Maryland forum pursued seed funding from the University of Maryland to assess stress felt by Maryland’s farmers. This assessment ultimately led to a $1M Rural Opioid Technical Assistance grant awarded to the University of Maryland.
  • The Ohio State University funded $4,000 in mini-grants to implement strategic doing activities developed during the Ohio forum.  
  • A special supplement published by Delmarva Farmer provided health and economic information to farmers and agricultural professionals.
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training was provided to agricultural service organizations around Maryland. Delaware Extension received funding to underwrite three MHFA trainings in 2019 and six in 2020. Agriculture, health care, school and faith-based professionals have been attending these sessions.
  • A radio show, which aired on Baltimore’s public radio station WYPR raised awareness about the stresses of farming.
  • A new University of Maryland Extension website is dedicated to providing resources related to managing farm stress. In Delaware, resources have been added to the “agribusiness” website.
  • A “Linking Farm Vitality and Health” self-assessment tool was developed that can be used with a short video entitled “How Healthy Is Your Farm?” These curriculum pieces were developed as a result of Delaware forum discussions.
  • The Delaware Division of Libraries developed a “LibGuide” website that hosts farm and farm family health and finance related topics.
  • During the 2019 Delaware Ag Week programming and Women in Agriculture Conference, on-site health screenings were provided free of charge by two area hospitals. Over 100 individuals took advantage of this opportunity.
  • A coalition of Delaware stakeholders has piloted a succession-planning curriculum for youth to assist them in learning what succession/transition planning is, who needs to be involved, and the tools necessary to implement a plan.

In early 2020, the team will release a guide for conducting community forums linking health and farm vitality, which will be available on the NERCRD website.

The Developing a Coordinated Community Risk Management Approach to Health and Health Insurance among Farm Enterprises team was led by University of Maryland Extension’s Virginia Brown, with Maria Pippidis, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, and Shoshanah Inwood, The Ohio State University, serving as Co-PIs.