Health

Health


Aug 08, 2022

by Heather Stone

Farmers like you have a lot to think about everyday. Weather, crop yield, market prices, chemical usage and government policies are all elements you have to plan for and consider in your operations.  While thinking about your livelihood and the uncertainties that can affect profitability, safety risks are often deprioritized. Statistically, farming is one of the most hazardous occupations. According to the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH)” in 2019, 410 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 19.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.” Ultimately, injuries and illnesses have the potential to harm colleagues and family members you work alongside. These injuries also have the potential to result in major costs to your farm's bottom line. Insurance is an operating cost that you likely see every month on your balance sheet.  Crop insurance, workers compensation insurance, livestock insurance and health insurance for your family are all examples. Insurance premiums typically rise with the frequency and cost of claims.  Even a minor accident can involve time, money, people and resources which can impact current and future operations. Create a strong safety culture on your farm You have a huge responsibility as a farmer to ensure the safety of your operation, whether it’s you and a few seasonal workers or a larger scale operation.Your workers place their safety and health in your hands. Your leadership and the culture you create on your farm will help ensure your team goes home safely to their family each evening.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to build a strong safety culture on on your farm, while also reducing costs to your bottom line: 1. Start each day with a safety moment Talk to your employees about the tasks that will be performed during the day, review the risks involved and discuss what steps will be taken to reduce those risks. Encourage each employee to speak up and share stories and ideas. Talking about safety to start the work day only takes a few moments, but sends a message about how much you prioritize safety.  2. Encourage employees to speak up Are safety concerns openly discussed on your farm? Are workers encouraged to speak up without fear of punishment, ridicule or dismissal? The more employees are encouraged to speak up, the more opportunities you will have to identify an issue before it becomes an accident. 3. Focus on the cause, not the person Often when an incident occurs we are quick to blame. The truth is, people do make mistakes, but it’s not intentional. Most mistakes happen because we didn’t set the employee up for success. Was the training adequate? Was the workload acceptable? Were there other stresses (e.g. weather, time of day, etc.) that contributed to the accident? By focusing on what caused the individual to fail, you can make improvements that will drive success. 4. Make safety part of everyone’s job The National Agricultural Tractor Safety initiative reports, “ Tractors cause about 130 deaths annually ”  Equipment and facilities on the farm should be inspected regularly. Get your team involved in these inspections and coach them on the hazards they should be looking for. From a wasp nest in an overhang to a pinch point on a sprayer, the more they look for hazards, the greater the chance they can avoid — or eliminate — them. 5. Recognize good behaviors Your employees look up to you and model your behaviors. If an employee is taking a few minutes to get a sip of water on a hot day, use it as a chance to thank them for staying hydrated. If an employee is wearing chemical gloves while pouring a pesticide, call out that good behavior. Most importantly, recognize employees who are willing to speak up and bring safety concerns or ideas forward. Never underestimate the power of a “thank you.” You never know when a suggestion may save a life on your farm.  Everyone can be a leader when it comes to safety. It only takes a few small actions, good or bad, to impact the safety culture on your farm. Creating a culture of caring on your farm ensures all employees are looking out for themselves and each other to ensure the work gets done… safely. It also helps you rest better at night knowing your team is home safe with their families and will be ready for work the next day. Additional resources 11 Tips for Farm Safety 5 ways to be proactive about farm safety  Safety on the Farm: Prepare. Prevent. Protect Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, "Farmers First" and “FBN Direct” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. 


Aug 08, 2022

by Lucas Strom

When FBN® members told us that they need better healthcare options for their families and farm employees, we listened. In 2018, we launched FBN Health to bring farmers more choice around their healthcare options with plans that are designed for them—straightforward, affordable and reliable health benefits with best-in-class service when you need it most. Farming is a tough business. One of the greatest potential risks you manage is your own health and personal wellness, as well as that of your family and employees—but you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve tailored health benefits plans to meet FBN members’ needs with a farmer-focused healthcare coverage offering, which includes enhanced ambulance coverage. Healthcare designed for farm operations You need the freedom to choose from a range of healthcare coverage options that meet your farm’s specific needs. We have four different plans that offer you: Health coverage for your family and your farm employees: Medical, dental and vision Free, 24/7 telephone access to a doctor—at $0 co-pay—so you don’t have to waste any time driving to town when you have a medical question or need Extensive regional and national networks of providers based across the country Affordable health benefits for farming businesses You don’t have to settle for the rising cost of health coverage. By leveraging the purchasing power of the FBN network, we are working to lower health insurance premiums and pass those savings straight on to you. In many cases, we expect eligible FBN members will see significant premium savings over the individual marketplace. The plans offered through FBN Health are level-funded plans which are fully underwritten, allowing them to provide much lower rates for relatively healthy members of your family or farm employees. Between our unique approach and the power of the FBN network, members may see 25-35 percent savings under the right circumstances. Simple to choose and easy to use You deserve hassle-free health insurance. Lower-cost healthcare options should also be convenient to access and use when you need them, and come with hassle-free support. You shouldn’t have to spend valuable time re-learning the ever-changing landscape of the healthcare industry, benefits options and network providers—through our partnership, we’re making the enrollment and selection process easy, and the benefits service you receive after the sale outstanding. How to participate in FBN Health Farms with as few as one employee who have a Federal ID Number (FEIN) are eligible to apply.  The online application takes about 30 minutes to complete and can be found at FBNHealth.com . Our team is staffed by licensed health insurance experts to help you make the right coverage decisions for your family and operation. We will walk you through the application and enrollment process and be there to answer any claims questions throughout the year. Where is FBN Health Offered? FBN Health is available in all 50 states. Are you unhappy with your healthcare coverage?  Does your family farm have the best option for health insurance?  Call 877-892-3303 or visit FBNHealth.com to apply. FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health. FBN Health is marketed by FBN Insurance LLC. FBN Insurance LLC is not a licensed insurance company or agency and its employees and representatives are not licensed life and health insurance agents. Policies marketed by FBN Health are level-funded group health benefit plans offered and administered by Benefit Plan Administrators, Inc. (“BPA”) and Employers Business Alliance ("EBA") and available only where BPA and EBA are licensed." If you submit the Get A Quote Form, a licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you on behalf of BPA or EBA. You cannot obtain coverage under a health plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is approved and accepted by BPA or EBA. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. FBN Health is currently available in all 50 states.


Jun 15, 2022

by Heather Stone

Farming is a dangerous profession. It’s a high risk environment for children, young people and adults. While farms are both your workplace and your home, the thought of a child or young person getting injured or worse is unfathomable.  That’s why it’s important to be proactive about safety on the farm. Whether they’re children or young people, it’s important to keep all members of your family safe. But how do you get started?  Here are 9 things to think about to keep your children and family safe on the farm: 1. What supervision protocols are in place? When farming activities are taking place, who’s keeping an eye on the kids to ensure that they’re out of harm’s way? And at what age should supervision change? This will depend on the child and their understanding of the potential dangers of farming. As an adult and parent, your child’s safety is probably already top of mind.    2. Storing chemicals safely Are chemicals easily accessible on your farm? If so, what precautions can you take to ensure dangerous and hazardous chemicals are stored safely from children? An example of storage ideas can range from fire rated hazmat storage (typically for flammable and hazardous chemicals) to chemical storage cabinets. Make sure whatever you use can be locked up and securely stored. There are stringent U.S. state requirements and age limits for handling certain classes and types of chemicals and pesticides. Additional resources for Canadian and Australian farmers are listed at the bottom of this post. 3. Ride alongs Are ride-alongs ever safe? And at what age should you think about starting to have your child ride along on equipment and tractors? This answer may change depending upon the type, make, model and age of the equipment. Should a tractor with no roll over protection be treated differently than one with it?  Don’t get complacent with a newer tractor.  Does it have enough seatbelts? Can a child fall out of the door if you hit a bump? 4. Farming equipment When should children be given access to farming equipment? What type of training has been provided to the child? Are there other safer activities? If it’s for work on the farm in the U.S. make sure to check Federal and State child labor laws for agriculture. 5. Confined spaces What is a confined space and how can children be made aware of their danger? What are the existing  confined spaces on your farm? Some common confined spaces in farming are: grain bins, silos, vats, underground tunnels and wells, water tanks, manure pits, etc.  6. Buildings and structures Are children aware of the dangers of barns and grain elevators? When is it safe for kids to climb buildings and structures? For more information on the exemptions and fall protection regulations for farms in the U.S. review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration presentation Fall Prevention in Agriculture . 7. Sources of water Are there ponds, rivers, retention ponds, water tanks, springs, wells, etc. on your farm? Can everyone on the farm swim? If some swimmers are stronger than others, are appropriate safety devices available for those who are not as strong or confident? Discuss water safety with your children and specific examples of when and where they are not allowed to swim on the farm and the importance of having someone else around; i.e. having a buddy system for safety purposes.  8. Farm animals How do you keep kids safe around farm animals? What animals are more dangerous than others? Understand that farm animals are unpredictable and everyone should always be aware of the size and dangers of these animals.  9. Other hazards Other hazards to be aware of on your farm include: Overhead power lines Electricity sources Portable grain augers Moving equipment Power take-off shafts  Uncovered grain dust Keeping your family and kids safe is a personal, regulated, and sensitive topic. Opinions will definitely vary and that’s okay. Depending on where you live, country and state laws may vary. Safety awareness of the dangers of farming is an important step to prevent injuries.  Make it a priority to keep your kids safe by talking to them and having discussions about farm safety.  Additional resources for family farmer safety USA Youth in Agriculture eTool National Ag Safety database  NIOSH Agricultural Injury Prevention Canada Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA)  for kids Australia Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety Child Safety on Farms  Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, "Farmers First" and “FBN Direct” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. 


Nov 11, 2021

by Mark Wilson

Jodi Baetsle, FBN® Health Program manager asks brokers Jeanie Cunningham and Jessica Gamblin the questions you need to know to decide if coverage through FBN Health is right for you, your family and your employees.  What you’ll learn What kind of plans are available? What makes FBN Health different? Do I need to change my doctor if I get coverage through FBN Health? What’s new for 2022? How can FBN Health help keep costs down for farmers? How do I apply? Watch now Ready to apply? Visit fbnhealth.com and click “Request a Quote.” Still have questions? Pick up the phone and call (877) 892-3303 to speak with a broker. FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health. FBN Health is marketed by FBN Insurance LLC. FBN Insurance LLC is not a licensed insurance company or agency and its employees and representatives are not licensed life and health insurance agents. Policies marketed by FBN Health are level-funded group health benefit plans offered and administered by Benefit Plan Administrators, Inc. (“BPA”) that are available only where BPA is licensed. If you submit the Get A Quote Form, a licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you on behalf of BPA. You cannot obtain coverage under a health plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is approved and accepted by BPA. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. FBN Health is currently available in all 50 states.


Nov 24, 2020

by Sarah Bieber

Over the past few years, one of the biggest financial issues farmers have had to contend with is affordable healthcare. Rachael Vonderhaar can tell you from personal experience. Rachael is part of a multi-generational farming operation in Southwest Ohio, an hour north of Cincinnati and just off the Indiana state line.  The Vonderhaar family looks like a lot of other Midwestern farmers: They grow corn, beans and wheat and run a cow-calf operation. She farms with her husband, Alan; her son, Adam; and her father-in-law, Leonard, who still helps out with planting and harvest. “Just before the 2016 election, we got a notice that we were losing our healthcare plan,” Rachael says. “All the private insurers were pulling out of our county, and our broker was very kind about it, but he told us there was nothing available to us.” On December 31, 2016, a plan for which they qualified showed up on the exchange — but “qualifying” still meant paying full price.  After a year on this plan, one insurer returned to their county, offering more services for the price, but still, charging more than $2,000 a month for a high deductible plan. “It was mind-blowing to us,” Rachael says. In 2019, while attending the Commodity Classic, Rachael heard about what Farmers Business Network ® had to offer. All the services offered as a part of the FBN ® membership were intriguing, but the opportunities for a better health plan sealed the deal. Get a free quote and compare plans. Apply for coverage through FBN ® Health “Healthcare had become one of the biggest financial challenges we have had to figure out,” says Rachael. “Once the Affordable Care Act went through, our monthly amounts just kept increasing, creating a real issue for us.” In Spring 2020, the Vonderhaars received notice that their premium was increasing to $2,400 a month. It made the decision to switch to FBN Health easy.  Today, the Vonderhaars estimate they are saving $1,000 per month through FBN Health. Their plan still has a higher deductible, but the upfront savings leave them with more money in their pockets for when they do have to make big decisions.  For their family farm, it gives them some breathing room when it comes to buying inputs, and it made the decision much easier when their son Adam graduated college and wanted to come back to the farm.  And, equally as important, it’s been very easy to use.  One of the most significant perks is that they can now use an out-of-state doctor and still be in-network — a big deal when the best hospital for your family is just across the nearby state line. This is something that previous plans hadn’t allowed for.   “ FBN Health alone was enough to make us want to become FBN members,” Rachael says. “It has completely changed how we feel about health coverage.” Get coverage designed for farmers through FBN Health Fill out our online application to receive a free quote, compare plans and see how much you can potentially save by signing up for coverage through FBN Health. © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered trademarks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission. Testimonial is not indicative of future performance or success; savings may vary. FBN merchandise was provided in exchange for testimonials FBN Health is currently available in 29 states (AL, AR, AZ, CO, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NE, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV) (*Note: CO groups have specific participation requirements, contact us for more information.) FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health, a level-funded group health benefit program offered by Medova Healthcare Financial Group, LLC as Lifestyle Health Plans and is available only where Medova is licensed.  You cannot obtain coverage under a Lifestyle Health Plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is accepted and approved by Medova. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. 


Nov 23, 2020

by Sarah Bieber

A fifth-generation farmer, J.P. Rhea is a large-scale organic producer just north of Omaha, Neb. His operation farms 10,000 acres of predominantly organic alfalfa, corn, beans and small grains. They also have a cattle feedlot and an ingredient manufacturing facility.  Last winter, he signed his operation - which includes 35 employees - up for coverage through FBN Health . We asked J.P. a few questions about making that decision and what his experience has been so far. Q: What was the major driver that moved you toward FBN Health? Frankly, there aren’t a lot of good healthcare coverage options out there for small businesses, and it can be tough to navigate the marketplace. The whole industry feels stacked against you, almost in a “take it or leave it” way. I appreciated how FBN came in with a different way to look at it and provided up with some alternative options.  In Year One, we’ve seen a savings of more than $50,000. Q: What do savings like that mean for an operation like yours? The biggest thing is that we can continue to provide health coverage to our employees. We’ve seen these costs increase over and over, and the price just gets harder and harder to justify. This step back in cost enables us to continue taking care of our team in the way we want to. We’re a family business, so we want to take care of our employees and their families. They are loyal to us, and being loyal to them is the right thing for us to do.  From the business side, we are fairly close to the Omaha metropolitan area, which means we compete with manufacturing businesses for labor. Health coverage is pretty standard in those jobs, so for us to compete for labor, we need to provide what the market encourages. Get a free quote and compare plans Apply for coverage through FBN ® Health Q: How long have you been with FBN ? We first signed up with FBN four or five years ago, and we were still farming some conventional acres. We started out mainly interested in price shopping and having some price transparency on chemicals. Since then, however, we’ve really started to take advantage of more things FBN has to offer.  At every step, we’ve seen really good value. We’ve bought chem, we’ve purchased organic ingredients and seed corn - and now our health coverage and some of our crop insurance are with FBN as well. At every turn, FBN has offered great value or extraordinary service, and health is no different.  We really appreciate what FBN is doing to help farmers and give them better choices and more options. Everything might not work for every farmer, and that’s ok. Across the offerings, we’ve been impressed with how FBN has evolved, and we are excited to continue to work with them in the future. Get coverage designed for farmers through FBN Health Fill out our online application to receive a free quote, compare plans and see how much you can potentially save by signing up for coverage through FBN Health. © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered trademarks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission. Testimonial is not indicative of future performance or success; savings may vary. FBN merchandise was provided in exchange for testimonials FBN Health is currently available in 29 states (AL, AR, AZ, CO, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NE, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV) (*Note: CO groups have specific participation requirements, contact us for more information.   FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health, a level-funded group health benefit program offered by Medova Healthcare Financial Group, LLC as Lifestyle Health Plans and is available only where Medova is licensed.  You cannot obtain coverage under a Lifestyle Health Plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is accepted and approved by Medova. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. 


Oct 30, 2020

by Brian Paff

When the Bergen family signed up for coverage through FBN ® Health last December, they discovered significant savings for their operation.  “We were able to save $1,900 a month by signing up with FBN Health,” says Kelsey Bergen, who raises two children with her husband, Mike. Their new plan now includes coverage for both dental and vision as well. “Being able to add that for a small amount feels like a home run for our family.” The economic realities of agriculture The Bergens grow irrigated corn and soybeans as well as dryland corn in Central Nebraska. Mike, a first-generation farmer, knows the economic realities farmers are facing right now all too well. “Agriculture has been tough the last couple of years,” he says. And for many family farmers, health coverage is an expense that can often cut deeply into an operation’s bottom line — even in the best of times.  But particularly against the backdrop of rising production expenses and tight commodity markets, setting aside the time to research and find affordable health coverage for your family and other members of your operation is critically important.  That’s exactly why Farmers Business Network ® launched FBN Health to provide farmers with an alternative, offering quality health plan options that are designed with farmers in mind.  Get a free quote and compare plans. Apply for coverage through FBN ® Health  “Being self-employed, health coverage is hard,” says Bergen, who estimates that their family monthly premiums had been rising $500 on average over the past couple years. “We just got to the point where we couldn’t afford it anymore.” The savings they gained have the potential to make an immediate impact. “You know, a total savings for our operation of $23,000 per year — that’s real money,” he says. “And honestly, the coverage that we’re getting through FBN Health is better than what we had.” "A total savings for our operation of $23,000 per year — that’s real money. And honestly, the coverage that we're getting through FBN Health is better than what we had. " - Mike Bergen, Nebraska Kelsey describes the increased sense of financial freedom and flexibility the savings will deliver to their operation as incredibly valuable.  “When you’re on a farm, that money’s probably going to be reinvested. But if there’s projects that we wanted to do to our house, if there’s a trip that we wanted to go on — those are things that would have had to wait before,” she says. “Now we have the option to look at those again because we’re saving a good amount of money on our healthcare costs.” The process of switching to FBN Health was relatively straightforward for the Bergens, too, which was an added bonus.  “Health coverage is a really hard thing to figure out,” says Kelsey. “The application process was really easy through FBN Health. We were able to talk to an agent and they made it easy to fill out the forms online.” Get coverage designed for farmers through FBN Health Fill out our online application to receive a free quote, compare plans and see how much you can potentially save by signing up for coverage through FBN Health. © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered trademarks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission. Testimonial is not indicative of future performance or success; savings may vary. FBN merchandise was provided in exchange for testimonials FBN Health is currently available in 29 states (AL, AR, AZ, CO, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NE, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV) (*Note: CO groups have specific participation requirements, contact us for more information.) FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health, a level-funded group health benefit program offered by Medova Healthcare Financial Group, LLC as Lifestyle Health Plans and is available only where Medova is licensed.  You cannot obtain coverage under a Lifestyle Health Plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is accepted and approved by Medova. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. 


Aug 21, 2020

by Brian Paff

Each year, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. 1 In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. 2 Since agriculture is an industry that sees most of its work done outside, it is important that you know the dangers of sun exposure and the signs to look out for. Three main forms of skin cancer Not all forms of skin cancer are alike in terms of appearance, risk level and/or treatment plans. Because early detection is key to effective treatment, it’s helpful to know more about the common forms of skin cancer. Here’s a quick overview: Basal Cell Carcinoma The most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma , is characterized by pink or red spots that often become crusty and eventually bleed. 1 Melanoma Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It presents as spots that may alter between different shades of brown and may have an irregular outline. If detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent. 1 Squamous Cell Carcinoma A lesser known form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma , is marked by pink spots that grow quickly. 1 With this knowledge in mind, be sure to check your skin often for any changes or irregularities and consult your doctor with any concerns. Skin cancer safety tips  So what preventive measures can you take? While following these recommendations won’t eliminate your risk of developing skin cancer, here are a few quick and easy steps you can take to protect yourself against sun exposure: Apply sunscreen every two hours—and more frequently on hotter days, when you sweat more. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher. Invest in light, long-sleeved clothing, and take advantage of sun-protective fabric that wicks away moisture for added comfort. Wear wide-brimmed hats; baseball caps simply don’t offer enough protection for your ears, neck and nose. Plan your day well; the sun’s UV rays are most potent between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, so do your best to limit your exposure during these hours, if possible.  Be sure to see a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam. Health coverage designed for farmers We know how important your health and the health of your family is to you. That’s why we’re committed to offering coverage through FBN Health. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete our online application and receive a free quote from one of our insurance brokers—no FBN membership required to receive your quote. Sources: 1. Cancer Facts and Figures 2020 . American Cancer Society. 2. Stern, RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: Results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol 2010; 146(3):279-282.  © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered service marks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission.  FBN Health is currently available in 21 states (AL, AR, CO*, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NE, ND, OH, OK,  SD, TN, TX, WA, WI). (*Note: CO groups have specific participation requirements, contact us for more information.) FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health, a level-funded group health benefit program offered by Medova Healthcare Financial Group, LLC as Lifestyle Health Plans and is available only where Medova is licensed.  You cannot obtain coverage under a Lifestyle Health Plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is accepted and approved by Medova. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. 


May 15, 2020

by Brian Paff

Farming is full of challenges that can take a toll on your mental health, even under the best of circumstances. But particularly in these uncertain times—as a global pandemic impacts just about every aspect of life, including commodity markets and the food supply chain—identifying ways to support mental and emotional wellness is critically important for farmers. May is Mental Health Month, and in some ways it couldn’t have arrived at a more timely moment. With that in mind, we at Farmers Business Network℠ want to offer you encouragement and provide you with some resources to remind you that you are not alone. Take time to practice self-care As the stressors associated with farming mount, finding time and space to care for yourself can feel increasingly difficult. But it’s precisely because of these stress factors that you need to practice self-care in the first place. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you cultivate practices that nurture mental and emotional wellbeing. Find routines or rituals that are going to work for you . Here are just a few ideas that can help you take care of yourself: Develop a regular exercise routine In addition to being good for your physical well-being, exercise has the potential to reduce stress . It’s likely that your daily routine already involves physical activity, but finding time for more recreational exercise—going for a walk, riding a bike or even online workouts —can go a long ways toward self-care. Read for pleasure Ag publications are nice, but maybe pick up a book or magazine that will take your mind off of farming for a while. Try a classic novel or check out a magazine covering a topic that interests you. Write a list of relationships and things for which you are grateful Gratitude is a helpful practice in any season of life but can be particularly beneficial when you’re experiencing stress. Reconnect with an old hobby Remember that old tractor restoration project you started a few years back? Now might be a good time to revisit it (for inspiration, check out our efforts to restore a 1954 Farmall Super C tractor ). Or maybe there’s a new hobby or household project you’d like to take on. Find something that you can retreat to when you need to lower your stress levels. Change up your listening routine while in the cab or working in the shop Find a new playlist on a streaming music service or dig into a new podcast . Shameless  plug: If you like farm talk mixed in with a bit of lighthearted humor, tune into Off the Husk , a podcast produced by Millennial Farmer (and FBN member) Zach Johnson. Find time to sit in silence Whether it’s spending time in prayer or meditation or simply pausing for a few minutes to take in a sunset or listen to wind roll over your fields, embracing silence can bring a sense of calm amidst everything going on around you. If silence is too much of a challenge, there are plenty of nature and instrumental tracks you can listen to through an app like Calm . Meet with a counselor or therapist More on this in the next section, but finding someone with whom you can talk candidly about issues and struggles you’re facing can be, well, therapeutic. Whatever you do, remember that taking time for self-care better equips you to care for those around you and manage the challenges you face each day. Find strength in a support network When working through mental health issues, it’s all too easy to feel alone. And those feelings of isolation might be even more intense right now as some of the social networks you’re used to connecting with—from morning coffee to religious services to events in your community—may have all experienced varying levels of disruption depending on local response to the pandemic. It’s helpful to seek the support of others. Reaching out to family or friends is a great place to start. After all, they know you well and care deeply about your wellbeing. Commit to sharing some of your struggles with people you trust and talk through ways to address some of the challenges you are facing. Furthermore, there are online forums and groups designed for farmers that can offer you added sense of connection and remind you that you aren’t alone in these endeavors. As an FBN member, you can navigate to the Community tab in your FBN app in order to connect with other farmers, post questions on any variety of topics and provide support to others. FarmAid has a hotline (1-800-FARM-AID) and a dedicated support team who can connect you with resources as well as local or regional networks set up to help farmers succeed. It’s available during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET). Sometimes circumstances in life can feel overwhelming, even when you’re doing your best to care for yourself and are surrounded by a strong support network. It’s important to know there are trained professionals available to listen and help in times of crisis, both for you and for your loved ones. A licensed counselor or therapist will be well-positioned to listen to you, provide resources and help you develop strategies for supporting mental and emotional well-being. Your insurance provider should be able to explain your coverage and help connect you with an in-network professional near you. Some counselors and therapists even offer virtual visits, which can help address some challenges posed by geography or schedule. In the event that you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need immediate support, here are three resources that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Dial 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now 211 Dial 211 or visit 211.org National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741 It’s important for you to know that you are never alone. There are people—family, friends and others—who care deeply about you and want to help you achieve greater mental and emotional well-being. Health coverage designed for farmers If you’re looking for an affordable health plan for your operation that includes mental health services, take a closer look at coverage options available through FBN Health . It takes less than 15 minutes to complete our online application and receive a free quote from one of our insurance brokers—no FBN membership required. © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered service marks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission. FBN Health is currently available in 21 states (AL, AR, CO*, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NE, ND, OH, OK,  SD, TN, TX, WA, WI). (*Note: CO groups have specific participation requirements, contact us for more information.) FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health, a level-funded group health benefit program offered by Medova Healthcare Financial Group, LLC as Lifestyle Health Plans and is available only where Medova is licensed.  You cannot obtain coverage under a Lifestyle Health Plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is accepted and approved by Medova. Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply. 


May 08, 2020

by POET

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing pain for every part of society. Beyond just a health crisis, the virus has upended almost every aspect of our lives. For most Americans, daily life today is much different than it was even a few short months ago. Some may have faced health challenges, some may have faced economic challenges, and all of us are feeling more isolated as social distancing measures are implemented to stop the disease. But even before COVID-19 spread across the country, many farmers faced challenging times due to the already depressed farm economy, low commodity prices and unpredictable weather. Recently, POET partnered with Farmers Business Network℠ to host experts from South Dakota State University (SDSU) for a webinar to provide strategies and coping mechanisms for individuals in agriculture facing stressful situations or circumstances. The workshop was presented by Dr. Krista Ehlert and Adele Harty with the SDSU Extension Rural Behavioral Health Team. Here are three steps toward reducing the impacts of stress that Ehlert and Harty shared during the live webinar: Step 1: Identifying Stress Stress can manifest itself with physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, backaches or upset stomach. Mental symptoms can include anxiety, hopelessness, anger or depression. Changes in behavior or actions can cause individuals to sleep too little or too much, under eat or over eat, abuse substances like drugs or alcohol, lash out or become withdrawn. Cortisol, a hormone released by the body when an individual is under stress, can have several negative health consequences when present in the body for an extended period. Cortisol also makes it difficult for individuals under stress to see situations clearly and process their emotions.  Step 2: Managing Stress Because of this, Ehlert and Harty outlined three tools to utilize when a stressful situation arises even if they’re in the fog of stress. Self-Talk The first is to use self-talk. According to Ehlert “the body hears what the mind thinks. So choose your thoughts on purpose. It's being able to tell yourself that you can overcome any challenge.” Ehlert encouraged participants to choose words to repeat when in a stressful situation in order to control thoughts and manage the mental and physical symptoms of stress. One word Ehlert mentioned was “calm”. Repeating the word calm to yourself when you’re experiencing stress may help to keep your mind focused on the objective of managing emotions. Breath The second strategy is to use your breath. “When faced with a challenge, first use your breath. Deep breathing calms the mind and can help you focus. It can also help reduce chronic pain and improve sleep,” said Ehlert. Deep breathing helps to alleviate the physical symptoms of stress which in turn allows you to focus on managing the mental symptoms. Acceptance The third strategy is acceptance. Ehlert explains “if you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.” Managing the way you react to a situation can help you manage it better. A common stressor for many farmers is unpredictable weather. Unfortunately, none of us have control over whether or not this growing season will be too wet or too dry. However, you can control how you react to the situation. “We can't change the weather. But what you do have control over is accepting the fact that you have no control,” says Ehlert. She says that this acceptance can help you choose your attitude and reaction which can then lead to lower stress levels because these are things you can manage, unlike the weather or commodity prices, for example. Step 3: Offer Help If you’re worried about someone in your life who may be struggling with stress, Harty explains that it is critical you intervene in order to prevent the worst possible outcome. If you see signs of distress such as changes in relationships or behavior, outbursts of crying or anger or substance abuse it’s important to confront the person directly. Harty explains, “In most situations, they are going to be very appreciative that you have taken the time and have recognized that something isn't right, and that you want to do what you can to help.” Being able to effectively manage stress during these uncertain times will help each of us prepare for challenges and struggles. We are confident life will return to normal once again but it’s important that we weather this storm together. Learn more about POET's leadership in the biofuels industry and within rural communities Want to know more? You can subscribe to Vital, a free resource published by POET, to get additional biofuels news and ag industry content delivered to your doorstep or inbox.  The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.