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Tallahassee, Fla. — With May marking Mental Health Awareness Month, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced today the launch of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Farmer Stress Awareness Initiative. The formal launch will take place next week at an event at Wish Farms in Plant City on June 2nd at 9 am, where FDACS will premiere several videos that will air in markets across the state and online as part of this larger, holistic outreach campaign to raise awareness of mental health challenges and resources for farmers and rural community members.

“The pressures of keeping our food supply strong when so many factors are outside of a farmer’s control – from weather events to supply chain issues, unfair foreign trade practices, and invasive pests –result in Florida’s agricultural community experiencing tremendous stress. Yet these communities are too often forgotten when it comes to mental health care,” said Commissioner Fried. “Thanks to our federal agency partners and the great work being done by Florida organizations, my hope is that with this initiative, we can raise awareness and expand the impact of existing programs to help Florida’s producers, ranchers, farmworkers, and rural communities access the resources and the support they need to thrive.”

Background: In 2021, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to carry out a new Farm Stress Awareness and Reduction Initiative. For this initiative, FDACS is partnering with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) to train public school agriculture teachers, 2-1-1, 4-H, and Future Farmers of America members, and others to recognize the signs of farm stress in their communities and families. This critical program will also help create partnerships to help agriculture producers connect with mental health services in their communities and to expand the reach of new telehealth sites in rural counties. As part of this initiative, FDACS Division of Marketing and Development has produced multiple videos to raise awareness and promote existing resources that are airing digitally in all Florida’s media markets for four months. In June, radio ads on AgNet radio and print ads in industry publications will also run for four months.

More information on this initiative, including a preview of the video to be shown at the June 2nd event, can be found here.

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