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sowing the seeds of hope


"Thanks to your organization we are a family again, a family that can communicate.  We are still making changes but we all feel less stressed, and more like the farmers we were meant to be."
- Crisis Hotline Caller

"This getaway actually got us up and doing something about our situation to make it better for us.  Some terrific ideas and solutions to problems were discussed.  It should be required of farmers for the health of their family, marriage and profession."
- couple who attended a farm couple retreat


The Sowing the Seeds of Hope program (1999-2010)provided behavioral health services to uninsured, underinsured and other at-risk farm and ranch families and agricultural workers.  Seven states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) formed the regional program in 1999. 

The Wisconsin Office of Rural Health and Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association designed and initiated the SSoH project.  The project was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Rural Health Policy, Bureau of Primary Health Care, state and federal appropriations and private contributions.  AgriWellness, Inc., a nonprofit organization, provided administrative services. 

SSoH accomplishments include:

  • SSoH crisis telephone hotlines responded to more than 75,000 calls
  • SSoH provided agricultural behavioral health community education to more than 13,000 persons.
  • SSoH vouchers and other forms of assistance were made available to over 15,000 farm families/residents which enabled them to access behavioral health care services they would otherwise not have been able to afford.
  • SSoH partners trained more than 4,400 professionals to deliver agricultural behavioral health services.
  • Retreats and support groups for over 1,600 farm men, women and families have also been held in several states.
  • SSoH reached more three million people with public awareness and marketing activities.

SSoH work has been featured on ABC and CNN television broadcasts and National Public Radio and Farm Bureau radio programs.  Despite droughts, floods and ongoing economic challenges to family-sized farming operations, the suicide rate has not increased in states that have had SSoH services, whereas during the farm crisis of the 1980’s suicide and violence increased dramatically. 

The SSoH model has been selected as a “best practice model” which is included in Rural Healthy People 2010:  A Companion Document to Healthy People 2010.

The SSoH program was selected for inclusion in a compendium of model rural health programs published by the National Rural Health Association entitled Hope in the Face of Challenge