Episode Description: Binford, North Dakota farmer and rancher Tanner Overby's life changed nearly one year ago on January 30, 2019 when both of his hands got caught in a feed mixer wagon. There were extensive injuries to his hands and arm and he went through 12 surgeries in 30 days. Here's Tanner's advice for others going through a similar, traumatic situation. "Let people help you. I know it's hard to keep your head up with something like that, but moping and feeling sorry for yourself is going to make everyone around you miserable. Just try and take the high road; look at the positive." There was family, the community and people that Tanner had never met before giving him words of encouragement. "It was unreal; everyone was willing to help," says Overby. "There are a lot of good people out there. I was lucky to be from this small community when it happened." Tanner is engaged to Red River Farm Network farm broadcaster Megan Ternquist. Hear more from the couple in this episode 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.
Published January 6, 2020
Episode Description: On November 6, 2012, Jack and Mardee Reich and their son, Vander, were returning home from Mayo Clinic where Vander was being treated for a brain tumor. They made it a short way when the family was involved in a tragic automobile accident. Jack and Vander died in that collision and Mardee was seriously injured. Jack was a well-known Angus breeder and a leader in the North Dakota Stockmen's Association and National Cattlemen's Beef Association. In this episode of TransFARMation, Mardee shares this very personal story. Mardee continues to operate the Zap, North Dakota ranch. "I knew I didn't want to make another life-changing decision at that moment; I had enough change." People often say grief goes away with time. "I don't think that's true," said Mardee. "When time passes, you learn to tolerate it. The grief process is the hardest thing a person would ever have to do, trying to move forward after sustaining a loss." For others dealing with loss, Mardee said they shouldn't ever be afraid to ask for help.
Published January 2, 2020
Published December 16, 2019
Episode Description: Stress is certainly a reality in agriculture today. That stress also extends to children on the farm. Maddie Smith's family farms in southeastern Minnesota. While Maddie may only be a freshman in college, she recognizes what is happening on the family farm. "Times have been tough for the last several years. I really don't remember growing up in a time when farming was good," she explains. "We definitely see what's happening with our parents and grandparents. I think something that is easy to overlook is it is happening to us, too." Parents often want to protect their kids and shield them from financial challenges on the farm. "Which is almost worse. It's like being left in the shadows," says Smith. " I love being on the farm, don't get me wrong, but at the same time it's kind of a cruel reminder of what's happening. We're losing money even though it's something we love to do." Hear more from Maddie in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published November 25, 2019
Episode Description: Farming and ranching can be overwhelming at times. That's why Minnesota, along with other states, have a Farm Advocate program to help farmers maneuver through the current farm economy. "It's going to be okay, we're going to figure out what we need to do," says Steve Zenk, farm advocate. "In some situations you might not be able to do what you're doing now, but we should be able to move you forward somehow." Zenk encourages farmers to be proactive. "Get on top of this, don't wait." That may mean having a frank conversation with your lender. "If you're going to be short, communication is important. Just go in and have a visit." Hear more from Zenk in this edition of TransFARMation.
Published November 11, 2019
Episode Description: Bryan and Sarah Klabunde farm in Minnesota’s Mahnomen County. Bryan is vice president of Minnesota Farmers Union and Sarah is a nurse and mental health advocate. The pair participated in a recent safeTALK training hosted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Health. The goal of this half-day workshop is to prevent suicides in our ag communities. In this edition of TransFARMation, Bryan and Sarah share their experience and offers insight into dealing with a very stressful harvest season.
Published October 28, 2019
Episode Description: With low commodity markets and continued harvest delays, farm stress is a reality. Do you know a farmer or rancher who is struggling? Bishop Bill Tesch of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America says it's time for straight talk. "Get past the price of corn and soybeans, right? Get to how's it really going and if you think someone is really in trouble don't be afraid to ask the hard questions." There is an acronym Bishop Tesch likes to share: ACE - Ask, Care, Escort. "Ask the question, offer care and escort or help them get to the services they need." Hear more from Tesch in this episode of TransFARMation.
Published October 14, 2019
Episode Description: Mark Koehn is nearing the end of his second career as an agricultural appraiser for Stearns County in central Minnesota. Koehn started farming right out of high school in 1973. Low prices, bad weather and medical bills combined to be a big challenge. "Like most guys when things get tough, our first instinct is to work harder so instead of 12-to-14 hour days, I was working 18-plus hours a day." Koehn said the family was struggling financially, emotionally and physically. As a result, the fourth-generation farmer reluctantly sat down with his 96-year old grandfather and explained the situation. Grandpa understood. "He said, Mark, if your horse is dead, get off it; it is not going to get you to town." In the mid-90s, Koehn left the farm to work as an ag appraiser. "There can be actual rewarding second careers. Some may be in the ag community and some may be outside of it." Koehn is now seeing farmers under stress and encourages them to keep their lines of communication open with family and friends. Hear more from Koehn in this episode of TransFARMation.
Published September 30, 2019
Episode Description: Farmers and ranchers are enduring a tough time in agriculture. Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen can see signs of farm stress every day in certain sectors. "Farmers are in the fifth year of a downturn economy and it's eating into their equity. There are a lot of farmers struggling financially," says Petersen. That is taking a toll on farm country. Petersen is fielding calls from farmers and ranchers looking for answers. "One of the first things I do is ask if they've talked to a farm advocate and go from there." Hear from Petersen in this TransFARMation episode.
Published September 13, 2019
Episode Description: One of the most stressful situations for farm families is the transition of passing that farm from one generation to the next. Russ Tweiten focuses on succession planning for AgCountry Farm Credit Services. It can be difficult to hand over the reins. "Farmers who went through the 1980s know what it's like to struggle and don't want to turn the farm over and lose it," says Tweiten. "Give it some time and allow senior farmers to work their way out." To be successful in the transition process, communication is key. "The thing I sometimes tell people is don't let your shop be the Las Vegas of the farm. It should be shared and talked to with the rest of the family." Hear more from Tweiten in this episode of TransFARMation.