Georgia: 2022 Rural Stress Summit, Tifton, May 19

    Farmer's hands. ©Debra L Ferguson

    Farm family health and wellness is a priority for many rural Georgia communities. As the backbone of Georgia’s No. 1 industry, agricultural producers face unprecedented pressures, including increasing input costs, a flood of produce imports, labor shortages, pandemic protocols for worker safety and more.

    A 2019 study by the University of Georgia School of Social Work, conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed that rural Georgians’ emotional and behavioral health suffer as a result.

    Recognizing this reality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocated funding for the Georgia Department of Agriculture and UGA Cooperative Extension to help foster enhanced local, regional and statewide collaborations to cohesively support Georgia’s farm families.

    As a key part of this opportunity, these partners are hosting a free, one-day summit to dive into Georgia’s farm state of mind.

    The event, called Stress on the Farm: Supporting Wellbeing of Georgia Farm Families,” is scheduled for May 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. Register at no cost by May 12 here.

    “This is a complex, multifaceted problem and UGA Extension is excited to convene a diverse team of experts to help us address this issue. So far, our efforts and educational resources have been very well received by farmers and several have followed up to avail themselves of the offered counseling and other services,” said Laura Perry Johnson, head of UGA Extension. “My appreciation goes to all of our partners as well as the agriculture agents and specialists who care so deeply about the success and well-being of their clientele.”

    Leaders from the American Farm Bureau Federation will share emerging proven practices and recent lessons learned from its Stronger Together: Farm State of Mind platform. Breakout sessions will focus on identifying and leveraging existing community resources and natural supports. Summit participants include:

    Keynote speaker

    Ray Atkinson, director of communications, American Farm Bureau and Farm State of Mind.

    Featured speakers

    • David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives
    • Anne Montgomery, assistant professor, Mercer University School of Medicine
    • Stephanie Basey, director of communications and marketing, Mercer University School of Medicine
    • Anna Scheyett, professor, University of Georgia School of Social Work
    • Jennifer Dunn, behavioral health services administrator, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

    Community leaders are invited to join the conversation to explore how local organizations can engage in this effort and help better serve Georgia farm families. This event is intended for medical providers, counselors, church leaders, UGA Extension agents, policy makers, lenders, local elected officials, county/city municipal staff, pharmacists, school system personnel, agricultural producers and agribusiness owner/operators.

    For more information, please contact Maria Bowie, conference chair, at 706-542-3824 or mbowie@uga.edu, or Mark McCann, co-chair, at 706-542-3824 or astext@uga.edu.

    Other members of the planning committee and key project partners include the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Venessa Sims, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ Jennifer Dunn, Georgia Farm Bureau’s Lily Baucom, Anna Scheyett from the UGA School of Social Work, the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Diane Bales, and Andrea Scarrow with UGA Extension’s Southwest District.




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