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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
February 9, 2018

The Wisconsin Farm Center Offers Support for Farmers
From Start-Up to Retirement, the Farm Center Offers Confidential Services
Reach the Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474, Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

While the growing season may seem far away, Wisconsin’s farmers are still hard at work. Likewise, I continue to work with my colleagues to seek ways to support agriculture and all of the families who work in this important industry.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently distributed a reminder about the availability of the Wisconsin Farm Center to support farmers and their families throughout the year.  Farming is not just hard physical work, it can also be emotionally strenuous. The ups and downs of the industry and the unforgiving, unpredictability of nature can challenge even the most stalwart farmer.
An analysist at the Ag-Economic Outlook Forum last month said that the suicide rate among farmers is outpacing the suicide rate among veterans, though very few people realize it. I think the reason for this alarming trend is that farming is a lifestyle.  It is not just a job or a business. Our vehicles and property are more than just tools. Farming is our way of life. 
When our way of life is threatened or we are struggling to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, the emotional burden is immense. Farmers are proud people. We value our independence. We pull up our boots, fix our own tools and dive into challenges head-on.  But we all need help now and then.   
My father passed away 32 years ago this month. We had an auction after my father’s death to sell the herd and farm equipment. I remember the emotion I felt after the last piece of equipment left the farm, and I looked into an empty barn that hours before was full of dairy cows. I truly understand the stress and emotional toll that farmers experience during the ups and downs of agricultural life.
The Farm Center is a free resource to help farmers and their families through every type of scenario.  From start-up and ongoing financing to succession planning and retirement, the Farm Center is available to help. They will work with every farmer confidentially. According to DATCP, “Farm Center staff can help sort out farm financial options and offer a listening ear if you need someone to talk to about your farm situation.”
You don’t have to be in crisis to use the services of the Farm Center. They are available for any and every question or issue that may arise in farm life.  But if you, or a farmer you know, is in crisis, I encourage you to call right away.
The Farm Center also offers a counseling voucher program that can be used to access mental health services throughout the state. “We all know that chronic stress can have negative effects on our bodies, emotions and ability to make decisions, an everyone gets a case of the blues now and then, but sometimes the blues turn to depression,” explained Farm Center Director Kathy Schmitt. “Depression is a serious, but treatable medical condition.”
Farming can be very isolating work. We spend many hours on our own property, working independently. We are proud and we want to do everything on our own.  However, please remember that you are not alone.  Call 1-800-942-2474, Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  More information: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/FarmCenterOverview.aspx

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein  and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.