Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

How are Minnesota's Latino farmers dealing with stress?

people sit at a table eating
Rodrigo Cala (left) and Aaron Blythe (right) eat a late lunch with Javier Garcia (center) and his family after meeting about their cooperatively owned and run farm, Agua Gorda at Mi Pueblito, Jose Garcia's market and restaurant in Long Prairie. on Feb. 27.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News file

It’s been a tough year for Minnesota farmers. With the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve faced a lot of instability and stress.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture put an ad on Facebook for mental health help for farmers. It got almost 2,500 clicks in only 18 days.

That’s where the MDA’s new “Bend, Don’t Break” initiative comes in. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the MDA and 11 project partners $500,000 to support and develop programs addressing farm stress and rural mental health.

The Latino Economic Development Center is a partner in the initiative. LEDC helps Latino farmers across Minnesota with technical assistance, business development and capital.

Rodrigo Cala works for LEDC as an agricultural trainer, and he also owns a farm. He spoke with host Cathy Wurzer about his story, how he and his fellow Latino farmers have been faring recently, the unique challenges they face and the message of self-care Rodrigo is trying to share in his community.

LEDC plans to use its portion of the “Bend, Don’t Break” dollars to host a retreat for Latino farmers, where they will help lead conversations on stress and mental health.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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