Toulson to help farmers manage stress

Published 6:44 am Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has created a new position to help increase mental health awareness among Virginia farmers and to coordinate a network of available resources.

VDACS named Landre Toulson to the position of mental health and stress manager in late September. In this position, Toulson will promote mental health and stress awareness among Virginia farmers and families, identify available mental health resources and partners, and create a regional mental health resource network in Virginia.

Landre Toulson

A 2016 Centers for Disease Control study noted farmers, fishermen and forestry workers as having the highest rate of suicide than any other occupation.

“Farming is a physically demanding occupation. In addition, farmers must also manage the stress of severe weather, low commodity prices, trade issues, increased debt and the impacts of the coronavirus,” VDACS Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh said. “Landre’s agricultural experience will help move us towards our goal of having a comprehensive network of health providers, peer groups, services from faith-based organizations, and others to help Virginia farmers cope with stress and mental health.”

VDACS created the new mental health and stress manager position in partnership with Agrisafe. Position funding is provided by a grant from the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network Program that was created under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The mental health and stress manager position will work closely with the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force. Commissioner Bronaugh launched the Virginia Farmer Stress Task Force, in partnership with agricultural and health-related agencies and organizations in 2019, to raise awareness and coordinate resources to address farmer stress and mental health challenges in Virginia.

A Virginia native, Toulson understands the challenges of farming as he grew up on a grain farm in Northumberland County. He has worked as a sales representative for Monsanto before returning home to work on his family farm and trucking companies, and starting a new trucking company. He also worked at Virginia Cooperative Extension as an Agricultural Natural Resources Agent, and most recently, he worked for Chesterfield and Henrico counties as a teacher assistant servicing children with disabilities.

Toulson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Master of Education in Agriculture from Virginia State University.