Number of calls to Iowa Concerns Hotline increasing

AMES — The Iowa Concerns Hotline has seen a nearly 25% increase in calls over the past 12 months.

Anyone in Iowa may call the hotline, but the round-the-clock service is primarily meant to answer questions about farm and agribusiness finances. Tammy Jacobs oversees the hotline for Iowa State University Extension.

“We see a lot of issues between husband and wife, if it’s a partnership within the family, there’s issues with the partnership in the family,” Jacobs said. “so we hear a lot about the relationship issues but after we’re talking to the people, it really stems from those financial concerns.”

The conversations are kept confidential. Trained people answer the calls and make referrals to services that might help. An attorney is available to provide free legal education. The conversations are kept confidential. Jacobs said it appears commodity prices are creating stress, especially among family farming operations.

“We really hear a lot about the succession,” she said, “and how…they’re weary and fearful about losing that farm that’s been around in the family for so long which can really be a huge stress on an individual to try to make sure that they’re doing everything they can do in order to make sure farming enterprise and continue that legacy.”

Last year’s launch of the nationwide 988 suicide hotline hasn’t really impacted the number of calls to the Iowa Concerns Hotline according to Jacobs. “We tout ourselves as being more stress counseling,” she said.

The Iowa Concerns Hotline was launched in 1985, durin the Farm Crisis. It was originally called the Rural Concerns Hotline, but the name was changed to Iowa Concerns Hotline after the floods of 1993 to indicate it’s not just for farmers. In the past 12 months, the Iowa Concerns Hotline fielded 6483 calls, compared to the 4912 calls it received from May 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.