RUTLAND-Vermont Agency of Agriculture officials announced the beginning of a new benefit for dairy producers and their families called Farm First.
The program is intended to improve mental health and productivity among farmers and family members on Vermont's dairy farms.
The first of its kind in the country, it takes the valuable Midwest farmer hotline model to a new level with the addition of statewide licensed clinical staff prepared to confidentially assist with any concern.
In addition to providing confidential consultation and counseling, FFP staff researches needs and provides current information and pertinent referrals to farmers who work day and night to keep their farms running. Agricultural experts in both the public and private sectors are consulted by FFP staff to provide links and valid information for Vermont dairy farmers.
Program membership cards were sent to each Vermont dairy farm in February.
To reach a counselor, farmers call a dedicated toll-free counseling line, talk with a counselor about the issue at hand and are offered in-person counseling appointments and concrete help with resources.
The FFP website, www.investeap.org, provides information on a range of topics as well as access to the FFP via e-mail.