Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline Receives $10k Grant

Sep 5, 2019

The Avera McKennan Foundation receives $10,000 for the Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline. From left to right: Ginger Niemann, SDCF Senior Program Officer; Keith Moore, SDCF Board of Directors member; Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health; Jeff Veltkamp, SDCF Director of Development.
Credit South Dakota Community Foundation

The Farm and Rural Stress Hotline through Avera Health launched in January and is now averaging up to three calls a day. The South Dakota Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to support the on Wednesday.

Ginger Niemann is the senior program officer with the South Dakota Community Foundation. She says the foundation was eager to support the hotline because it serves farmers and ranchers across the state who are facing a long period of difficulties that can impact mental health.

“It’s not just been one year, it’s been a couple years now," she explains. "And we just really wanna make sure they’re all safe and have the resources they need to reach out to the individuals at the end of that line.”

But not all callers are South Dakota producers facing a mental health crisis. Some callers are from surrounding states, and others have different concerns--like where to buy hay since their regular supplier didn’t get a good crop this year.

Avera President and CEO Bob Sutton says the hotline is an opportunity to help ag producers—whatever that means. The $10,000 grant is just a start.

“So what this fund is intended to do and will do is not only support the hotline itself but be able to provide assistance—whether its counseling sessions or other services we can provide—to those ag families that are in need of assistance.”

Sutton says Avera is looking for other non-profit partners in hopes of raising half a million dollars to support the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline.