Your Hub for Applied Research Participating Members

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North Carolina State University

Dr. Andrew R. Smolski 

Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences 

Applied Research Director, Southern Ag Exchange Network (SAgE) 

Michael Schulman

Dr. Michael D. Schulman 

William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences 

Dr. Smolski and Dr. Schulman at North Carolina State University are continuing to analyze data collected from interviews with 15 White and 15 Black farmer informants from N.C., S.C., and VA. and from 2 focus groups conducted with a subset of the informants.  This work is part of a community-engaged collaborative project involving the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, the Rural Advancement Foundation International, USA., and other non-profit organizations.  A technical report detailing farmers’ perception of resources and information for navigating economic hardship and stress is in the final stages of preparation. One of the recommendations from this work is that university, community, and faith-based groups attempt to develop networks in order to provide a comprehensive, teams-based approach to expanding financial and mental health services for farmers in culturally relevant ways. They are developing a manuscript on how Black farmers frame racism and discrimination as traumatic and develop livelihood strategies reliant on racial solidarity and cooperation. Also, they are investigating the narratives that the farmer informants use to describe their pathways in and out of financial and mental health crises. Following evidence from this project, they are interested in expanding their work on farm stress to center the role of community-based organizations, farmer-to-farmer networks, and cooperatives as organizational bases for social support and livelihood strategies. 

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

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Dr. Laura E. Miller
Associate Professor of Communication Studies, College of Communication & Information.

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Dr. Emily A. Paskewitz
Associate Professor of Communication Studies (College of Communication & Information) and Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (Herbert College of Agriculture)

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Victoria Bertram
Doctoral Candidate, School of Communication Studies, College of Communication & Information (not on the grant, but helping with the following projects)

We have been exploring family farm mental health and stress issues over the last 2 years. We conducted 26 interviews with family farm members around a variety of topics: mental health, stress and coping, family communication patterns, generational differences, health in general, and interest in agriculture as a profession. We are currently working on three papers from this data:

  1. What are the stressors family farm members face, and how do they cope with these stressors. Interestingly, during the interviews most participants indicated their coping techniques (being in nature, caring for animals and land, pride in being a farmer) are closely tied to the stressors (unpredictable weather, finances, markets). This paper is under review and will be presented at the National Communication Association conference in November.
  2. We are currently working on a paper focused on where farmers hear about mental health concerns, and their reaction to discussions about mental health. This paper is in progress.
  3. The next paper we have started outlining will address the identity and cultural characteristics of family farm members and how those influence their discussions and responses to mental health and stress. 

In addition, Drs. Miller and Paskewitz have worked with Family and Consumer Sciences in developing presentations on managing family farm relationships and family farm conflict. These are part of the Master Family Farm Health and Wellness series offered by UTIA Extension. 

Clemson University

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Dr. Leslie Hossfeld
Professor of Sociology and Dean, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.

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Dr. Ken Robinson
Associate Professor of Sociology, and Agribusiness Extension Specialist Sandhill Research and Education Center.

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Akanksha Rathi
Candidate, MS Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice.

The Clemson University FRSAN team has been working in four main areas of farmer stress support: 

1) mapping South Carolina farmer stress resources using GIS Arc map - provides locations and details on many different resources to help relieve and mitigate farm stress with links related to health care, financial struggles, mental health resources, farmer coalitions and farm networks, federal and state agencies, non-profits and social services, and many others. Link to the guide:

2) interviewing socially disadvantaged farmers in South Carolina to learn firsthand from farmers what they need to mitigate farmer stress and sustain their farm businesses is key to identifying ways to support and help South Carolina farmersTo date, our team has interviewed 17 Black farmers and 1 Latino farmers. 

3) developing workshops and trainings based on farmer-identified needs to mitigate farmer stress, to strengthen, build and sustain farm businesses. These workshops will be held across the four regions of the state, and will be videotaped and shared with farmer networks throughout SC.  Workshops will be held in partnership with Clemson Extension agents, South Carolina State Extension agents, as well as the many organizations, state agencies, and farmer cooperatives the team has partnered with during the FRSAN project.

4) providing networking opportunities and resource sharing. For instance, the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences hosted a three-day Food Summit and Food Research conference on Clemson campus from September 13-15th in partnership with Aramark Food Services, Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, the Clemson University Watt Center, and with support and funding from USDA-NIFA. Over three hundred people attended the three-day event, including farmers from the southern region, providing rich networking opportunities and information sharing for all participants.  Findings from the event will help inform workshops and trainings that will be developed by the Clemson FRSAN team.;

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Middle Tennessee State University

Dr. Chaney W. Mosley
Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education  in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Assistant Director, Tennessee STEM Education Center 

Dr. Mosley at Middle Tennessee State University is continuing to analyze quantitative and qualitative data collected from school-based agricultural education teachers in the southern region.  A technical report detailing agricultural education teachers’ knowledge and awareness of farm stressors and suicide warning signs is in preparation. Recommendations  from this work include: (a) replication with other regions across the country; (b) replication with other career and technical education teachers); (c) targeted professional development for agriculture teachers to heighten awareness of stressors and warning signs; and (d) qualitative studies to better understand the lived experiences of agriculture teachers related to suicide exposure.

University of Florida


Kendra Hughson, MA
Interim State Program Leader & Regional Specialized Agent, UF|IFAS Extension-Family and Consumer Sciences

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Dr. Christa Court
Assistant Professor, UF|IFAS Food and Resource Economics

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Dr. Marcia E. Brown
SAgE Project Manager, UF|IFAS Extension- Northwest District

The UF team handles research efforts dealing with the perceptions of farm-related stress including mental health, access barriers to farmers, and financial stressors. We strive to build capacity for mental wellness training in rural and agricultural communities. We are evaluating the impact of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Suicide Prevention Training among our audiences. Additionally, Dr. Christa Court provides expertise on regional and agricultural economics (e.g., information and insights on relevant, publicly available agricultural data for research efforts, including information on the economic importance of agriculture to county and state economies) and insights into natural disasters as a stressor for farmers and ranchers. 

Mississippi State University

David R. Buys,

State Health Specialist and Associate Professor; Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion



Mary Nelson Robertson

Assistant Professor;
Department of Human Development and Family Science 

Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, through the Extension Service, Experiment Station, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, began placing a substantial emphasis on addressing farm stress in 2017, including training all Extension agents as mental health crisis first responders. Additionally, MSU has implemented three formative assessments with farmers:

1. focus groups to assess farmers’ and Extension agents’ perceptions of farm-related stressors, resources, opioid misuse among the agricultural community, and resiliency-embedded farm financial management training,

2. partnership with MSU Master of Business program to assess the need for a rural cultural competency program, Morning Consult Survey in collaboration with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and

3. a paper survey to assess mental health professionals’ perceptions of farm stress.

Currently, MSU is evaluating screenings of the Emmy Award-winning film, On the Farm; working with the University of Tennessee and North Carolina State University to pilot a survey with farmers in MS and TN; and partnering with the MS Department of Health to analyze and report MS agricultural industry deaths. MSU has presented research findings at more than 35 national, regional, and state conferences and has published or has in review over a half-dozen peer-reviewed articles. Programming and outreach efforts that MSU provides related to addressing farm stress include MSU Farm Stress Prevention and Response Advisory Team and Implementation Task Force, Stress and Coping Skills Training, Mental Health First Aid trainings, On the Farm screenings, and Resiliency-embedded Farm Financial Management trainings.

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Funding Acknowledgements: USDA-NIFA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Award # 2020-70028-32730

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