Navigating Financial and Mental Health Crises

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $299,959.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipients: Rural Advancement Foundation International - USA; The Land Loss Prevention Project; The National Center for Appropriate Technology
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Savi Horne
Land Loss Prevention Project

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, technical assistance
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, quality of life, social psychological indicators

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of the project is to reduce the loss of farms and lives by researching and testing culturally-responsive information and information delivery that addresses the combined financial, land tenure and mental health issues faced by farm families in severe financial distress. 

    This project is a collaboration between experienced farm financial, legal and mental health experts and farmers who have experienced fiscal trauma to research the ways in which farmers facing crisis access and process information. Based on what we learn from this phase, we will identify gaps in available resources and set priorities for adapting or developing new materials that support farmers in crisis, as well as identify methods for effectively disseminating these resources. We will work with our farmer partners to co-create draft materials, and disseminate these through direct service to farmers at two of our partner organizations, as well as broad publication online. 

    The project will work with partners in NC, VA and TX to research effective communication and intervention on financial, mental health and land tenure issues in farm decision-making in White, First Nations and African-American farm communities. The approach will address these issues together, and the experience of farm financial stress as financial trauma to build culturally-appropriate, decision-making skills and the ability of farm families to move beyond crisis. 45 farmers or farm families who have experienced farm financial crisis will be interviewed to determine the information needed and how they were able to access information during the crisis. Farmers will be identified from the direct services of RAFI and the Land Loss Prevention Project with decades of assistance for farmers in financial and legal crisis.

    The results of the interviews will be used to create evaluation criteria for existing materials on farm financial and mental health stress to identify materials that match the needs and form identified in surveys. The project team will then prioritize adaptation or development of additional materials to address identified needs.

    The results of surveys will be disseminated through professional and popular publications and presentations at professional conferences. Identified, adapted or developed materials will be disseminated to farmers through presentations at conferences and through a specific page on the ATTRA web site.

    The partner organizations bring to this project decades of experience with farmers in financial and mental health stress, and research and materials development and testing will take place in a context of ongoing services for farmers in crisis.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective Task Time
    Objective 1 Identify specific information and information delivery needs of farmers in crisis  
    1.1 Literature review on financial crisis effects on mental health April - June 2020
    1.2 Meeting of project leadership team to develop shared understanding of the dynamics of farm fiancial and mental health crisis, and develop the interview focus and questions May 2020
    1.3 Identify farmers to be interviewed May 2020
    1.4 Schedule and administer 45 interviews July - September 2020
    1.5 Transcription and analysis of interview results July - September 2020
    1.6 Review of interview Results November 2020
    1.7 Development of resource evaluation parameters and prioritization November 2020
    Objective 2 Aggregation and evaluation of existing materials on farm financial and mental health crisis  
    2.1 Aggregation of existing materials April - June 2020
    2.2 Identification of materials for evaluation April - June 2020
    2.3 Review of materials based on developed evaluation parameters and priorities November - December 2020
    2.4 Identification of appropriate materials, and prioritization of materials for adaptation or development November - December 2020
    2.5 Adaptation or development of materials January - May 2021
    Objective 3 Testing of identified, adapted, developed materials  
    3.1 Focus group with farm families from interviews July - August 2021
    3.2 Focus group with direct service providers July - August 2021
    3.3 Analysis of Focus group results August - September 2021
    3.4 Revision and re-prioritization of materials September - November 2021
    Objective 4 Dissemination of results of interviews and focus groups  
    4.1 Development of paper for peer-reviewed journal August - October 2021
    4.2 Development of project report of findings for agricultural advisors January - March 2022
    4.3 Development of project report of findings for agricultural attorneys January - March 2022
    4.4 Development of project report of findings for mental health practitioners January - March 2022
    4.5 CLE Presentation to NC Bar Association, American Agricultural Law Association November 2021
    4.6 Presentation to National Farm Viability Conference for agricultural financial advisors October 2021
    4.7 Presentations to farmer groups including NC Commodity Association meetings, the NC Small Farmer & Minority Land Owners Annual meeting, Southern Farm Show, Farm Progress Show, USDA 2501 program-related events, and the NC Sustainable Agriculture Conference. November 2021 - March 2022
    Objective 5 Dissemination of Identified, adapted or developed materials  
    5.1 Posting of materials on ATTRA web site November - December 2021
    5.2 Posting of Materials on partner web sites November - December 2021
    5.3 Presentation to Nottoway tribe members January 2022
    5.4 Use of materials in direct service assistance to farmers in crisis January - March 2022
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.