Farm Family Benefits

Advice for farm families:

Benefits Access for Farm Families:
Farm families are facing depressed milk and commodity prices which are having a huge impact on family income. The previous recession is still affecting so many people. What are the options? What can you do to make it through these tough financial times?

The situation of financial hardship is shared by many of your friends and neighbors. Operating at a loss, how can you and your family make it? In order to survive financially you may need to reach out and find resources you’ve never accessed before: Badgercare or Badgercare Plus (Wisconsin’s Medicaid program), Energy assistance, Food Share (formerly food stamps), and other economic supports. Under difficult circumstances, the decision to apply for these benefits is a very responsible one.

  1. How do I apply for benefits?
    There are two ways to apply for these programs and benefits. First, you may apply in person by making an appointment with your County Human Services Department, Economic Support Unit. This appointment can take a couple of hours, but the potential savings on food, energy, and medical costs is substantial. Another route is to apply online at
  2. I was earning more farm income last year, but my income has gone way down this year. Is my eligibility based on last year’s income tax statements?
    No. There is a special form you’ll need to fill out called the Self-Employment Income Reporting Form (SEIRF) This form asks for current self-employment income information, which may be very different from the income reflected in your previous tax return!
  3. What about the fact that I own property, farm equipment, etc.? Won’t that count against my eligibility?
    No. The eligibility criteria are primarily income-based and not asset-based, which helps farm families a great deal.
  4. How about other financial help that will allow me to meet my other financial obligations, like making mortgage payments, and pay other bills?
    The free and reduced price breakfast and lunch programs at school can also offset your family’s overall food budget. Make sure to check this out by contacting your child’s school. Other economic support programs found at might apply to your situation too. Taking the bull by the horns and tackling a difficult financial situation can feel awkward, but know that your family is not alone. Accessing any and all economic support during a time of no-profit profit margins is wise and proactive, and might save your family farm.

For more information on family financial management, such as locating a credit counselor, or how to cut back expenses and crisis budgeting, contact your County Extension Family Living Agent at

* The Wisconsin DATCP Farm Center has financial experts who are trained in a wide range of farm-related subject areas. They can provide assistance with feasibility analysis, enterprise analysis, along with restructuring and cash flow projections. These experts can personally assist you and answer your specific questions. They can also provide you with useful resources.

* By dialing 211, you can reach a variety of local human services such as United Way, Human Services, and other agencies.

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