Volunteers step up to help farm familiesA group of dedicated volunteers for the Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) has been busy this winter providing help to struggling Minnesota farm families.
A group of dedicated volunteers for the Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) has been busy this winter providing help to struggling Minnesota farm families.
Coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), MFAN is a network of volunteers from several agencies and organizations who offer business and financial guidance at no cost to Minnesota farmers and farm families facing economic hardship.
Volunteer Jim Kelm, a retired farm business management instructor from Red Wing, says his 35 years of training and experience can be helpful for families experiencing stress.
“So far I’ve found that just talking through their situations with them has been helpful. I can assist them with cash flow planning, taxes, business organization and other challenges,” Kelm said. “Hopefully more families that are in stressful situations will call MFAN for guidance or reassurance that they are heading in the right direction. We may not be able to solve all their problems, but we can offer some ideas that may help them.”
Kelm and fellow volunteer John Stone, a retired financial analyst from Alexandria, say MFAN can equip farm families with resources that they may not be aware of.
“We are fortunate as volunteers to have numerous resources to draw from that will help us provide options to our clients,” said Stone. “I was in banking during the agriculture crisis of the 1980s so I would like to do what I can to help people before their situations become critical.”
Along with the volunteer analysts, other network partners including University of Minnesota Extension, MnSCU Farm Business Management programs, Farm Advocate program, Crisis Connection and others have dedicated resources and staff training to better connect farm families with the help they need.
In addition to providing business and financial guidance, MFAN volunteers will also give referrals for legal services, basic needs and mental health counseling. Many public and non-profit agencies and institutions such as family service providers and churches have also given valuable assistance to farm families.
Farmers seeking assistance should call toll free, 1-877-898-MFAN (6326) or Twin Cities at (651) 201-6326. E-mails are received at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about MFAN can be found on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us.