The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline
In the early 1980s, financial pressure and related legal and emotional stress reached a crisis stage for many Nebraska farm and ranch families. As land values plummeted, debt piled, and foreclosures reached a record high, Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska (IMN) formed a coalition, not only of its member church denominations, but also of agencies and organizations with a direct interest in confronting rural hardship.
Representatives of the coalition realized from the beginning that the underlying problems leading to the crisis would not be solved overnight, nor would the groups be able to provide funds to troubled farmers. But they knew of resources to help provide sound financial and legal counsel when requested, and, to respond to families with needs for emotional and spiritual support.
The plan grew quickly because of the crisis nature of the problems and the coalition’s commitment to service. Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska and representatives from the Farmers Union, National Farmers Organization, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Legal Aid of Nebraska, Women in Farm Economics, the UN-L Ag Extension Division; and lenders worked closely to build the response network and make it available to anyone in Nebraska agriculture.
How it works:
The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline (1-800-464-0258) is one of the primary services provided by the Farm Crisis Response Council through Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska.
When a farmer, rancher, or rural resident calls the Hotline, an experienced staff person will answer to respond directly to callers, discuss issues and needs, provide helpful information, and refer callers to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, and other farmers, and mediation.
In Addition, staff assists callers in dealing with stress, depression, and other mental health abilities of a caller through the COMHT (Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy) Program (1-800-464-0258). No-cost vouchers and information on confidential mental health issues for persons affected by the rural crisis are available. Funding for the COMHT Program is provided in part, through the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Rural Health, and Community Service Block Grant.