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Associated Press, Published November 27 2009

Minnesota starts crisis hotline for farmers

HOUSTON, Minn. — Minnesota has started a hotline to help farmers feeling the financial and psychological impact the tough times.

It's in high need. The nation's largest network of crisis hotlines for agricultural workers, Iowa-based AgriWellness, has seen an 18 percent increase in calls in the last year.

Mike Rosmann, who works at AgriWellness, tells Minnesota Public Radio that many calls are from dairy producers in Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and parts of Iowa. They've seen their operations crippled by plunging milk prices and many could shut down.

Crisis hotlines have seen calls increase since last fall, when pork and dairy prices began to collapse.

Minnesota launched this month a Farmer Assistance Network, which includes confidential crisis counseling. It's modeled after the Farm Advocate Program that began during the farm crisis of the 1980s.

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