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AgriSafe Coaches Train to Improve Total Farmer Health

Agriculture represents one of the most hazardous industries in the country. Farmers are at very high risk for both physical and mental health conditions. Many farm-related conditions are preventable with access to trained health professionals, but the reality is many farmers and their families often live and work in resource-poor communities. 

In 2019, AgriSafe launched the Total Farmer Health (TFH) model as a concept to illustrate the multifaceted drivers of health for agricultural workers, including how physical and mental factors shape a person’s life, as well as other influences within and outside of their control. 

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) has played a significant role in AgriSafe’s ability to implement this model by supporting the TFH Coach initiative since 2020. To date, the THF Coach program has been successful in creating resource capacity and deploying education at the local level. 

“As professionals who understand the many factors that impact a farmer’s wellbeing, coaches are essential in their communities and are equipped to holistically addresses their physical and mental healthcare needs,” shares Natalie Roy, chief executive officer of AgriSafe. 

Coaches are nurses, wellness educators, or rural leaders who have achieved agricultural competencies through AgriSafe training and professional development,” Roy explains. “The coaches’ role is to be a trusted, local resource for the communities where they live and work, drawing on their connections and local expertise to be successful.” 

Recognizing the important boots-on-the-ground role of outreach educators, AgriSafe is looking to recruit additional coaches to provide ongoing mentorship across FCSAmerica’s four-state region and ensure they have the tools necessary to educate rural communities on all aspects of the TFH model. 

“These coaches can be a critical resource for a community when there is an emerging issue such as a natural disaster or disease outbreak. Implementing a more comprehensive coaching program allows these leaders to be innovative yet flexible in responding to their communities’ needs,” says Roy. 

“While we cannot reduce farm stressors such as volatile markets and impacts from natural disasters, we can raise the competency of rural leaders to educate others on the conditions commonly experienced by people working in agriculture,” Roy adds. “The TFH approach helps to facilitate culturally relevant resource sharing, and trained providers and coaches can in turn empower farmers and workers of all ages to recognize and minimize risks.” 

Community Involvement Contacts

For more information about our community involvement program, contact your local Farm Credit Services of America office or email community@fcsamerica.com.