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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Financial pressures, unpredictable weather, drought, long work days and social isolation can cause stress and take a toll on the mental health of Montana's farmers and ranchers, officials say.

The state Department of Agriculture has received a $500,000 federal grant to help connect agricultural producers to stress assistance programs.

“Montana’s farmers and ranchers are carrying heavy workloads, braving the elements no matter the weather, not to mention taking care of equipment, animals, family members and everything else that comes along with their work of feeding the world," said Christy Clark, the agency's acting director.

“Our department is excited to roll out resources to ensure our producers are taken care of first and foremost, because they are truly the most important part of their operation,” Clark added.

The program will provide vouchers to Montana farmers and ranchers to receive free, confidential counseling services, both in-person and via telehealth. The services will be provided by in-state providers who have an appreciation for agriculture, the agency said.

The department also will work with agricultural groups to provide grant funding that can be used to help pay for mental health programming, such as a speaker or workshop.

The Department of Agriculture will continue to promote the Montana Ag Producer Stress Resource Clearinghouse, developed by Montana State University and the Western Region Agricultural Stress Assistance Program, to enhance mental health among those involved in agriculture.

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