Enhancing mental health supports for farmers and ranchers

News release

November 27, 2023 – Edmonton, AB – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada  

Farm families have improved access to mental health services and resources thanks to more support for the AgKnow Alberta Farm Mental Health Network.

Farm life can be extremely demanding, with unpredictable challenges that affect the mental health and well-being of everyone in the family. The Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta is receiving $388,500 to generate awareness and expand mental health research and supports available to farmers through AgKnow.

This funding is provided through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) which is helping Alberta build a stronger and more resilient agricultural sector for generations to come.

This funding will build on the work AgKnow is doing to raise awareness and support mental health. This includes developing, promoting and delivering:

  • More evidence-based mental health programs, tools and learning resources to help farm families and farming communities thrive
  • Education and learning resources to help therapists, health care providers and community service organizations understand farm culture, the issues farmers face and the supports available to address mental health concerns

Sustainable CAP is a 5-year (2023-28), $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation and resiliency in the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5-billion commitment that is cost-shared 60% federally and 40% provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories. 


“Our farmers and their families face unique demands and challenges as they work to feed Canada and the world. It’s vitally important that we continue to invest in programs that support the mental health and well-being of folks working in our agricultural sector, and this funding through AgKnow will help ensure Alberta’s farming communities have the necessary resources and tools available to them when they need it most.”

- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“It’s essential for AgKnow to continue bringing awareness on mental health and help farm families get the supports they need to manage life’s stressors. This funding will help advance farm mental health research and education while providing more resources for farmers and farm families.”

- RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation

“Our government is grateful for partners that are supporting mental wellness through initiatives like AgKnow. As one of Alberta’s most prominent industries, we are committed to providing farmers, ranchers, and their families the support they need.”

- Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions 

“Alberta farmers can feel immense pressures to support their families and to continue extensive family farm legacies. Through AgKnow, we’re de-stigmatizing farm mental health and making it easier for farmers to access therapy and counselling designed with their lifestyles in mind. With this grant, we’ll be able to expand our programming and develop more educational resources so therapists and counsellors across Alberta can better understand and serve farmers.”

- Linda Hunt Pag, program director, AgKnow

“As a non profit organization that delivers agricultural programs across the province, we work with a lot of farmers. So we were honoured to be chosen to create the AgKnow initiative. We’re already making a difference in the lives of farm families and we’re grateful to the federal and provincial governments for their continued support.”

- Alan Hall, executive director, Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta

Quick facts

  • The AgKnow Alberta Farm Mental Health Network was established in 2022 with a $524,500 Canadian Agricultural Partnership grant.

    • Since AgKnow’s launch, 12 agriculturally-informed therapists and counsellors have provided mental health support to 39 farm families.
    • In 2023, AgKnow hosted more than 24 workshops and webinars, targeted at either the farmers it serves or the therapists it hires and has reached more than 1,500 people.
    • In April 2022, AgKnow released a paper on recovery-oriented approaches to support Alberta farmers for sustainable futures in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Purc-Stephenson from the University of Alberta.
  • The Sustainable CAP framework provides flexibility for provinces to develop and deliver programs that meet their priorities and the needs of their agriculture and agri-food sectors. Programs align with 5 priority areas:

    • building sector capacity, growth and competitiveness
    • climate change and environmental protection
    • science, research and innovation
    • market development and trade
    • resiliency and public trust
  • In alignment with the resiliency and public trust priority area, Alberta is supporting this project to ensure producers and agri-food workers have access to the tools and services to take care of their mental health and build resiliency against the challenges facing the agriculture industry.

Associated links


For media:

Francis Chechile
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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Ashley M. Stevenson
Press Secretary, Agriculture and Irrigation (Alberta)

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