Michigan Dairy Review
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CornPicker for Silage Hybrids

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In Life’s Harder Moments, Help Is Available

Dawn Contreras
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

profit increase
This article continues the MDR series of “tips” following the lead article in the April edition titled “Weathering the Storm.” It is our hope that expanding upon the different aspects of dairy management will benefit the industry especially in the current harsh economic climate.

All of us have times in our lives when we need a little extra help. For some of us, asking for help can be difficult to do. People can have the belief that asking for help is not acceptable. This notion can become a part of the “rule book” in our heads that create a barrier to accessing help when it is needed. However, there are times when the old “rules” can be put aside. The situation has changed to the point where new rules make more sense. That is the case for some farm families. Michigan’s economy has changed to the point where more families may be in need of temporary assistance. Several forms of assistance are available to people struggling to make ends meet through many different community resources. Below is a list of a few of the resources categories for which you and your family may qualify.

Human and Social Services: Several assistance programs, such as Food Stamps, Medical Assistance, and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), are coordinated through the Department of Human Services. Your financial resources and family income are used to determine if you are eligible. Call me to find out what records to take with you.

Home Fuels Costs: Help with home fuel costs may be available through a Community Action Agency in your area.

Day Care Subsidies: Your county Department of Human Services may provide payment for child care services if your income and family savings are below certain levels. Child care assistance is available for qualifying families when the parent, legal guardian or substitute parent is unable to provide the child care because of employment, education and/or because of a health/social condition for which treatment is being received.

Food: In addition to food assistance through the county Department of Human Services, emergency food supplies may be available at local food pantries. Some churches and community agencies provide free or low-cost meals. Your children may be eligible for reduced-price or free school lunches. Some schools also provide breakfasts. Contact the school office.

If you have children under age five, you may be eligible for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. This federal program provides nutrition counseling and food vouchers to parenting, pregnant and breast-feeding women with children under five. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) surplus food may also be available if your income falls within the guidelines. Contact a Community Action Agency in your area for information on distribution.

Financial Counseling: Managing your household money requires careful planning and/or budgeting. Your local MSU Extension office can provide money management resources and tips for making the most of the money you do have. Local financial institutions, utility company consumer service personnel, or mortgage companies can also help with planning for payment of specific debts.

Health Services: The county Department of Public Health can provide information on free or low-cost preventive health services, such as blood pressure checks and other screening programs. Flu shots and other immunizations may also be available at a minimal cost.

Veterans’ Benefits: Veterans of U.S. military service and their dependents may be entitled to a variety of benefits from the federal government including: 1) monthly pensions to surviving spouses and to dependent children of veterans who have died; 2) monthly payments and/or tuition and books while attending school, receiving training or completing apprenticeships; and, 3) “Veterans’ points” added to examination scores when applying to enter state service and various special employment.

Family Counseling Services: Getting through tough times can be stressful for all members of the family. During these periods of high stress, family members may have difficulty coping with day-to-day situations. In every community, resources such as counselors, mental health professionals, clergy, and support groups exist. They can help you deal with stress and the physical and emotional symptoms that often accompany it.

For further information contact:
Dawn Contreras, Ph.D.
Senior Program Leader
Michigan State University Extension
160 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: 517-353-3886
Email: contrer7@msu.edu




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Milk Market
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