University of Maryland Extension will host a Farm Wellness Fair at the 4-H Park in Denton on November 8, 2021 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The event will offer speakers, demos, vendors, and resources to support farmers’ and farm workers’ mental health and wellbeing. The event will also include the opportunity to earn two Maryland Pesticide Private Applicator credits. Lunch and snacks are included, and the event is free to attend.
The purpose of the Farm Wellness Fair is to connect the agriculture industry with tools and resources that support healthy, profitable farm operations. University of Maryland Extension has planned the event with the help of local experts, including Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Inc. “Farms are the backbone of our community, but our farmers are not always getting the support they need,” said Kathryn Dilley, executive director of Mid Shore Behavioral Health. “This event will help farmers learn about tools they can use to help their workers, family members, or even themselves with mental health and addiction issues.”
A 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control identified suicide rates to be significantly higher in the agriculture industry than the general population. Opioid use has also had an outsized impact on rural, farming communities. A Morning Consult survey sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union found that 74% of farmers and farm workers have been directly impacted by opioid use, either by a family member or someone in their network who has struggled with opioids, or by taking or becoming addicted to opioids themselves.
Shannon Dill, principal agent for the University of Maryland Extension, said, “Healthy farms are successful farms. That doesn’t just mean having healthy soil, crops, and animals, but healthy people as well.” Dill noted that investing in farm workers’ wellbeing is an important part of running a successful ag operation. “We constantly monitor the health of our crops and animals and look for signs that they’re struggling. It’s important to do that for our people too.”
The Farm Wellness Fair is free to attend and open to anyone interested in the agricultural community, including farmers, farm workers, family members, suppliers, and supporters. Registration is available at bit.ly/farmwellness.
The Farm Wellness Fair is hosted by University of Maryland Extension with grant support from AmerisourceBergen Foundation, an independent not-for-profit charitable giving organization focused on supporting health-related causes that enrich that global community. Other project partners include Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Inc., Farming4Hunger, Caroline County Health Department, Maryland Rural Health Association, Eastern Shore Mobile Crisis Response Team, Maryland Coalition of Families, and the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund.