Premier Wab Kinew announced an investment of $450 thousand over the next three years for the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program  during Manitoba Ag Days.

He says the government supports the hard work that farmers have committed their lives to and knows that being a producer in the Ag industry can be difficult.

"This is why it is important to have specialized mental health resources available specifically for producers and their families, and why we are proud to partner with the federal government on this key initiative."

The Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program, a non-profit organization launched in 2022, addresses the mental health of farmers, farm families, and farm workers for free with access beyond crisis intervention to longer-term counseling support that helps prevent a mental health crisis.

Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn says the program is a pivotal resource for farmers, their families, and employees.

"Extreme weather conditions, market fluctuations, and disease outbreaks often isolate and challenge the mental health and well-being of farmers and their families. These funds will support the expansion of professional counseling services to increase access to mental health support."

He notes the $450 thousand dollars is a sound investment adding that by just talking with industry they know there is a need for the importance of such an organization.

Gerry Friesen, Chief Administrative Officer for the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program says the funding will help the organization expand the program even more.

"Of course, when we started, we started in a smaller way. We were able to add farm employees on January 1st and now we can even look at broadening this program even more."

He notes it will help in onboarding more counselors when that is needed.

Friesen says focusing on mental health is important as producers live and work in a very challenging and stressful environment.

"You know, this was the most expensive crop ever put in in Manitoba. We see now that input costs are still high, and commodity prices are softening. I know the poultry industry has gone through Avian Influenza. which was absolutely devastating for them. The pork industry is concerned about  African Swine Flu, interest rates are up. These are all outside of the control of farmers and when these things happen, it increases stress and leads to further issues."

The Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program has a booth in the Westoba Place Concourse during Manitoba Ag Days this week.