September 22, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald
LEXINGTON, KY

Whether the cause is falling grain and livestock prices, or effects of the worst drought in 58 years, Kentucky farm families are in the middle of a financial crisis. Financial crisis causes other problems in families because of the stress involved. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service created a task force to help aid those in crisis. The mission is simple – to develop and deliver education programs which empower farm families to deal effectively with farm financial stress.

In a recent meeting of UK Extension Specialists, Jack McAllister, dairy specialist, said the goals of the task force are to equip people with skills and aids in management, finance and social interaction; to help people develop confidence; to help people develop decision-making skills; to help clients implement risk management strategies and to help clients use established financial and planning tools to help the family farm enterprise.

The task force created and conducted a survey of Extension agents to assess clients needs and their interest in training. Agents overwhelming responded and as a result, in-service training was held in June and September with 132 total participants.

"This was the most integrated training Extension has ever done," McAllister said. "It affected all our clients."

During the training, task force members and specialists relayed information about mission statements, goal setting and stress management. Perhaps, most importantly, clients were taught how to recognize the warning signs of intense stress.

"As we presented all these things, we had to ask – how does all this fit together," McAllister continued. "During in-service training, we dealt with economic decision making, credit card decisions, etc. We were trying to show they were one in the same and just had different applications. We emphasized that financial statements are a tool to manage financial stress."

Trainees also received information about disaster assistance options in the face of the 1999 drought and options for dealing with stress that is resulting from the drought-stressed farm economy.

The task force created a notebook containing all the overheads presented in the training sessions, as well as other informative articles and financial statements to start the process of responsible farm management. The information in the notebook was gathered from existing sources due to time contraints. But it was nice to have a wealth of that information available when we needed it, task force members said.

Follow-up meetings will be held this fall. Contact your local County Extension office for more information about managing stress and farm family financial crisis.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Heald 606-257-9764

Source: Jack McAllister 606-257-7540