FREDERICTON (GNB) – New Brunswick farmers will have access to new resources to help address the stress of operating a farm thanks to a new farm-focused mental health and safety initiative announced today.

“Our farmers have one of the most important jobs in the province and also one of the most challenging and stressful,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “We must do whatever we can to assist them. This initiative will provide helpful tools and resources. We want our farmers to be safe, healthy and happy.”

A 2021 University of Guelph research study found that 76 per cent of farmers said they were currently experiencing moderate or high perceived stress. In the same study, one in four Canadian farmers said they had thoughts of suicide over the past 24 months.

The initiative is in partnership with Agriculture NB (Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, National Farmers Union in New Brunswick and Really Local Harvest Co-Op). Funding was provided by the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries through the Canada-New Brunswick Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership Program.

As part of the initiative, a website has been developed as a hub where mental health and wellness training, tools, and resources can be easily accessed. The material encourages farmers to take the first steps in maintaining mental fitness by recognizing when it may be time to reach out and talk to someone, and by learning to take care of themselves, their families, co-workers and others.

“The New Brunswick Mental Health and Farm Safety Initiative will provide essential support and resources to producers when they need it most and will improve the mental and physical wellbeing of agricultural communities across New Brunswick,” said federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Agriculture NB, through the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, has hired a mental health and farm safety co-ordinator who will work with other provincial co-ordinators and organizations to create, deliver and promote resources, workshops, information sessions, and material in both official languages for the agricultural community.

“The Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, the National Farmers Union in New Brunswick, and Really Local Harvest, have worked together over the last year with partners to build the mental health and farm safety program for the farming community,” said Anna Belliveau, CEO of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick. “We are looking forward to working with our co-ordinator and growing the program in the coming years.”