Milk co-op mailing highlights suicide risk for dairy farmers

When some Northeast dairy farmers received their milk checks last month, their dairy cooperative included a list of mental health services and a suicide prevention hotline.

It was an alarming sign of the financial stress small dairy farms are enduring.

The Agri-Mark Inc. dairy cooperative says it felt obligated to get the resources out to its 1,000 farmers in New England and New York following the suicide of a member farmer in January.

Agri-Mark economist Bob Wellington says farmers are facing their fourth year of payments well below their cost of production, due in part to a national and global oversupply of milk.

Minnesota has set up a free 24-hour confidential helpline for farmers, and calls have been pouring into FarmNet, a help line in New York.