Dear Friends in Christ,
This has been a year when across much of Eastern North Dakota Synod, the rains were either too early or too late; too much or too little. Combined with a weak market and tariffs, our farmers and ranchers are facing another challenging year. As I drive this synod and beyond, everywhere I look, I see crops in the field waiting to be harvested. Now, as if an uncooperative planting season, low commodity prices and tariffs weren’t stressful enough, the fall harvest is bringing challenges which I have never witnessed in my lifetime. As I write, North Dakota is in the midst of an early snowstorm. Harvest will be delayed, diminished, or devastated.
I cannot imagine the emotional strain and anxiety being born by our farmers/ranchers and their families. Depression will be a reality for many. Suicide rates could climb. Feelings of failure and anxiety about the future are rampant, especially when families are managing Century Farms. All these challenges, especially the current rain and snow, will put stress on our rural communities.
What can we do? Eastern North Dakota Synod is organizing a Faith and Farm Coalition. This group is dedicated to providing resources and ideas for supporting farm and ranch families. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I urge you to raise awareness in your congregation. Let people know how they can get a hold of a pastor and/or counselor. Learn more about what hurts our farmers and ranchers. Reach out to your neighbors who farm, raise livestock, run grain elevators, own farm implement dealerships, or depend on farm income to sustain their local businesses and offer them your support and assistance.
There is also a great resource available from our partners at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. Visit https://www.lssnd.org/farmstress. The information on this site is available in a great pocket-sized handout; copies of that can be requested though saraH@lssnd.org
Bootstraps card PDF version
Together, let us pray:
Gracious God, O God,
The rain and snow is falling. The costs are up and the prices are down. For many, the payments are due and there’s no money in the account. Lord, use us so that those who are struggling don’t feel alone or feel like failures in their efforts to steward your creation. We know there are those who feel the harder they work, the worse it seems to get. Strengthen those who have lost laughter, joy or hope. Hold our farm families close as we do our best to know and act according to your will in the days ahead.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Bishop Terry A. Brandt
WHERE TO GET HELP:
U of M Extension Financial Counseling
- 1:1 help for farmers who have financial difficulties
- Financial analysts: 12 retired bankers, farm business management instructors
- Free and confidential
Abound Counseling at LSSND
- offers in-person and telehealth counseling services
- call 701-223-1510
First Link Help Line
National suicide-prevention hotline
Dedicated Farm Counselor/Therapist
- Ted Matthews - 320-266-2390
- Meets with farmers and farm families 1:1
- no insurance, no paperwork
- No charge; funded by MN Legislature
MN Farm and Rural Helpline
- Free, confidential, 24/7
ND Agriculture Department Credit Counseling Services