Episode Description: Nearly 75 percent of farmers surveyed said they have been impacted by the opioid epidemic. These pain meds may be in your medicine cabinet or bedstand. "Never did I dream when I started working with Farm Bureau 25 years ago that when was out talking about farm safety and farmer wellness I'd be talking about suicides and addiction," said Ruth Meirick, who leads the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation. "I probably spend the most time in those two areas when discussing farm safety." Addiction to prescribed opioids can start within three days. While it can be a scary topic, Meirick said the discussion about addiction and mental welness should be normalized. "This impacts a lot of people, we need to talk about it." Learn more about the impact of opioid addiction in this edition of TransFARMation.
Even during the best of times, farming is a stressful business. TransFARMation highlights the need for conversation and openness around farm stress and mental health. Listen to the series below. It is also available for download on iTunes, Spotify and on your favorite podcast app in the Google Play store.
Published June 8, 2022
Episode Description: Brent Meshke has a unique perspective. He raises lambs, hogs, corn, soybeans and alfalfa on his Lake Crystal farm. For the past two years, Meshke has also been an ag lender for MinnStar Bank. "It definitely helps with the lending business, being able to see both sides of the table." Commodity prices are high, but farm input costs are also escalating. Meshke stress the importance of having an accurate cash flow statement. "The projections often start at the beginning of the year, but it is also good to put sales in the projections even after you meet with the lender. Personally, I like FINPACK and there are some operators that work with Farm Business Management and that's great." Meshke says it is important to know the capabilities of your farm and what it will cost. Listen to the entire conversation with Brent Meshke.
Published May 25, 2022
Episode Description: After a life in the city and suburbs, Theresa and Jake Bentz wanted a closer connection to their food and became first-generation sheep farmers. Get Bentz Farm is located on 40 acres near Northfield, Minnesota. "There's so much we didn't grow up with and we're learning every day." Theresa credits her community for their support of small, sustainable farms. We all wear a lot of different hats, making it difficult to sustain a work-life balance. "There are times I'm really good at keeping all the balls in the air and rocking it, but there are also times when the balls drop and that's okay." In the TransFARMation podcast, Theresa also highlights the teamwork seen on the farm. "Our kiddos get to watch Mom and Dad run a business in our home and watch us work together. which is cool for kids to see; maybe that's how it should be." Listen to the full podcast episode with Theresa Bentz.
Published May 11, 2022
Episode Description: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has spread to more than 30 states and has affected millions of birds. The commercial poultry industry went through a similar outbreak in 2015. Erica Sawatzke is a turkey grower from Kennsington, Minnesota and chairs the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. "We're fortunate that my farm has not gotten it yet, but you always have this fear of who's next." Farmers are in the food business and the concept of euthanizing the flock has a financial and emotional toll on growers. "It's just a helpless feeling." In this episode of TransFARMation, Sawatzke shares her unique perspective about this deadly disease. Learn more in this edition of the TransFARMation podcast.
Published April 26, 2022
Episode Description: Lake Benton, Minnesota farmer Bob Worth was a 'young gun' when he began farming 50 years ago until the farm crisis of the 1980s hit, taking its toll. As a result, he went into a severe case of depression. "It was so bad I didn't even care if I got out of bed. Even if harvest was there, I didn't care; it (the crop) could stay there." Bob's wife convinced him to go see a doctor. "I'm glad she did. The doctor put be on some medicine and diagnosed me with severe depression." As a past president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Bob has been vocal about his experience with depression. There are some similarities between the 1980s and the tough farm economy of today. Worth leaves listeners with this piece of advice. "Communication is so important, especially during times of stress." Hear more in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published April 11, 2022
Episode Description: Due the supply chain headaches, farmers are dealing with shortages of certain crop protection products, fertilizer and farm machinery parts. Farmer and crop consultant Curt Burns, who is based at Stewart, Minnesota, discusses the anxiety faced by growers this spring. When making a visit to his farm clients, Burns says the conversation nearly always turns to the angst and nervousness in production agriculture today. "You talk about this in the shop or the kitchen table and it is more like being a counselor than an agronomy person." Burns has practical advice in this edition of TransFARMation.
Published June 9, 2021
Episode Description: Drought is a reality for many farmers and ranchers this year. 90-year-old rancher C. Wayne Vance, who lives at Ray, North Dakota, has been through these conditions before. "In 1961 we were really dry and hardly raised a crop," says Vance. "Then 1962 came along and it did finally rain. There is still hope; it will rain one of these days." To still be ranching at 90, Vance certainly enjoys his job. His advice for young ranchers battling drought conditions is to keep your chin up. "It's been a tough year ever since COVID hit, but you have to keep going." Vance shares his story in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published November 2, 2020
Episode Description: Crop insurance professional Mary Ebnet was diagnosed with severe coronary artery disease three years ago. That came after an original misdiagnosis. Mary says it is important to be your own health advocate. "Hind site being 20/20, I look back on that day I was in the clinic during the Christmas holiday. My gut told me right then this doesn't seem right." Mary encourages others to give that gut impression more credibility. This life changing event also served as a reminder to adjust her 'to-do' list. "People always have this mental checklist. I'm as guilty as anyone and that list of things that need to get done creates this anxiety." That's why Mary tries to never have more than three things on her list at a time. "When you complete that list, it's amazing how your brain reacts to that accomplishment." Hear more in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published August 31, 2020
Episode Description: Agriculture is a stressful business, but that has certainly intensified during COVID-19. South Dakota State University Extension mental health specialist Andrea Bjornestad says the pandemic has definitely increased stress levels. "It adds more stress on top of what agricultural producers are experiencing over time. They are facing financial difficulties with closures and market prices." Parents have also had to determine childcare or home school their children. However, there is some positive news coming from the situation. "The more we talk about it (mental health), the more likely people will think that they're not alone." Hear more from Bjornestad in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published August 17, 2020
Episode Description: Clarissa, Minnesota dairy farmer Patrick Lunemann has his own personal experience with the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the Long Prairie community in Todd County was experiencing a high number of cases. "We did have a couple of confirmed cases at our dairy farm. I believe it was more than just those two and I believe I had it," explains Lunemann. "I didn't get a test, but I had the same symptoms at the same time as the two that tested positive. Therefore, I went through the appropriate quarantining practices." It is difficult to work through the COVID-19 crisis, Lunemann adds. Getting the works done was a challenge, especially since labor is generally a challenge in agriculture. "When we're milking basically around the clock, you need people to fill those shifts. Losing even a couple people creates a big hole in the schedule. It was not easy." Hear more from Lunemann in the latest TransFARMation episode.