New Brunswick’s first Mental Health and Farm Safety Initiative launches

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Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

New Brunswick farmers will have access to new resources to help address the stress of operating a farm thanks to a new farm-focused mental health and safety initiative announced today by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Honourable Margaret Johnson, Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries in partnership with Agriculture NB (Agriculture Alliance of NB, National Farmers Union in NB and Really Local Harvest Co-op).

“The New Brunswick Mental Health and Farm Safety Initiative will provide essential support and resources to producers when they need it most and will improve the mental and physical wellbeing of agricultural communities across New Brunswick.” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

As part of the initiative, www.farmtalkcare.ca has been developed as a hub where mental health and wellness training, tools, and resources can be easily accessed. The material provided on the site supports the agricultural community to take the first steps in maintaining mental fitness, recognizing when it may be time to reach out and talk to someone, and learn how to care for themselves, their family, their workers on the farm, and anyone in the farming community.

“New Brunswick farmers have one of the most important jobs in the province and also one of the most challenging and stressful,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “We must do whatever we can to assist our farmers. This initiative will provide the tools and resources they need. We want our farmers to be safe, healthy and happy.”

Funding for this initiative is provided by the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), a new $3.5-billion, 5-year agreement (April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2028), between the federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. The agreement includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and $2.5 billion in cost-shared programs and activities funded 60% by federal, and 40% by provincial and territorial governments. These cost-shared programs and initiatives are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.

Agriculture NB, through the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, has hired a mental health and farm safety coordinator who will work alongside other provincial coordinators and organizations to create, deliver and promote resources, workshops, information sessions, and material in both official languages that the New Brunswick agricultural community will use to mitigate the risks of mental illness and farm accidents.

“The Agricultural Alliance of NB, the National Farmers Union in NB, and Really Local Harvest, have worked together over the last year with partners to build the mental health and farm safety program for the NB farming community. We are looking forward to working with our coordinator and growing the program in the upcoming years.” says Anna Belliveau, CEO of the Agricultural Alliance of NB.

A 2021 University of Guelph research study found that 76% of farmers said they were currently experiencing moderate or high perceived stress. In the same study, one in four Canadian farmers said they had thoughts of suicide in the past 24 months.

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