Healthy minds and bodies are an outcome of Total Farmer Health. If you’re a farmer, rancher, or farmworker, you already know that your work can expose you to variety of hazards. AgriSafe’s job is to help protect you while you work. 


Total Farmer Health Contract

AgriSafe trademarked and developed the Total Farmer Health® campaign to draw attention to occupational hazards as well as individual, social and mental health components that could impact a farmer’s health and well-being.  In 2019, AgriSafe launched the Total Farmer Health® training to educate rural health professionals across the nation to care for the mental health needs of farmers.

South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) was awarded an AgriSafe contract beginning May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, with the option of renewal into 2021. SDFMC staff member, Cheri Fast, RN, WOCN, was selected to represent and lead efforts for South Dakota. She recently completed the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar Program and comes from a farming background. She will function as a Total Farmer Health Coach and be tasked with identifying occupational hazards as well as individual, social and mental health needs of South Dakota’s farmers and agriculture producers.

The state of mental health among American agricultural producers is a crisis that must be met with a rapid response.  The agriculture industry is considered one of the top occupations with the highest percentage of deaths by suicide.  Key factors that contribute to these rates include financial losses, chronic illness or pain, a sense of work-life imbalance, and/or the physical or social barriers to access mental health services. Agricultural occupations are vulnerable to circumstances that are out of their control such as unpredictable weather patterns, falling market prices, and labor shortages. 

Agricultural producers are viewed as the backbone of society and represent an unyielding force that suffers backbreaking work to provide for others. Even if a farmer attempts to seek care, they generally live in rural areas which comprise 85 percent of the 1,669 federal-designated mental health professional shortage areas.   Therefore, farmers who may be of the greatest need of any occupational group are going without crucial mental health services.

Four trained TFHCs will service the five states sponsored by Farm Credit Services America and leverage innovative partnerships in their states to respond to farmers under stress. They will train at least 450 community leaders, ranchers, farmers and health professionals using a variety of methods. They will also assist AgriSafe with indirect media campaigns and farm shows to reach an estimated 5000 farmers and ranchers.

While we cannot reduce farm stressors such as volatile markets and impacts from natural disasters, we can empower Ag producers to reduce the negative impact on their life.  We can coach them on how to recognize signs and symptoms of stress, identify sources of stress (stressors) and take action to better manage their stress levels.  In addition, we can raise the competency of rural health professionals to screen for anxiety, depression. and risks for suicide. 

SDFMC is excited to function in this new role and embraces the opportunity to engage in an innovative and relevant healthcare arena with this valuable partner.