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Home > All About the MDA > Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network?

The Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) is a partnership of organizations launched by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) designed to address the needs of farmers facing financial challenges. The primary purpose of the MFAN Program is to provide business and financial guidance. MFAN also can assist farmers after a natural disaster, such as a tornado or flood. MFAN can also assist by providing referrals for legal services, basic needs, and mental health counseling.

How can MFAN help farm families?

For farm families having financial difficulties due to economic or natural disaster events –

  • Work with a farm analyst to identify issues with the financial vitality of the operation and attempt to work out a solution (can include creation of balance sheets, cashflow projections, and lending requests).
  • Connect with public and private groups and programs that can assist the farm and family with debt restructure, cost assistance programs, or other useful resources.
  • Connect families with basic household and behavioral health needs to help through the difficult times.

For beginning or aspiring farmers –

  • Discuss ideas and options towards the development of a viable farming operation.
  • Identify resources to help the new farm get off the ground
  • Work with a farm analyst to consider viability and risk potential of different options being considered.

For farms considering a succession plan –

  • Identify tools and resources for the development of a farm succession plan
  • Help facilitate initial start-up phase of a succession plan 

Which organizations are offering resources as part of the MFAN network?

The growing list of MFAN partners includes farm, commodity and other organizations, such as:

  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA)
  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Farm Business Management (FBM) and Rural Mental Health Programs
  • Crisis Connection, Sowing the Seeds of Hope
  • MDA Farm Advocate Program
  • Farmer-Lender Mediation
  • Farmers Legal Action Group
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Faith based organizations (Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities)
  • County Social Service Agencies

How can I contact MFAN?

MFAN began operations November 1, 2009.  The network telephone line will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Call toll free 1-877-898-6326, or e-mail at mfan.mda@state.mn.us  

Will there be any fees or costs for farmers to participate in MFAN?

There is no cost for MFAN’s assistance.  However, there may be fees associated with services provided by certain partner organizations.  When possible, MFAN will make attempts to identify scholarships or other resources to help farmers offset these costs.

Will the privacy of farmers’ financial information be maintained?

Yes.  One of MFAN’s core values is respect for the privacy of financial information.  MFAN will hold confidential the financial information that participating farm families share with MFAN.

How can qualified volunteers become part of MFAN?

MDA is always looking for individuals willing to share their time and talent to help our farming families. Interested volunteers can contact the MFAN Coordinator at 651-201-6311 to learn more.  Important qualifications include expertise in farm enterprise analysis, debt restructuring or crisis counseling.  Other desired qualities include strong communication skills and the ability to work with a wide range of people.    

Why is the Minnesota Department of Agriculture organizing MFAN?

Agriculture is a key driver of our state economy, providing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.  Unfortunately, right now many producers are experiencing economic difficulties.  By providing one-on-one business and financial guidance to farm families, MFAN is consistent with MDA’s mission to strengthen our agricultural economy.