The Iowa Concern Hotline is seeing a boost in calls from farmers and those who depend on agriculture-related businesses.

Hotline director Margaret Van Ginkel says that sector of the economy was thriving just a couple of years ago, but three straight years of low commodity prices are pushing things in a different direction now.

“We’re hearing some concerns from those smaller machinery businesses that are looking down the road to see how much that farmer might have to spend on machinery this year,” Van Ginkel says. “They could be having a tough year, too.”

Large equipment manufacturers are also feeling the pinch. Quad Cities-based Deere and Company has idled more than 3,000 workers since 2014.

Van Ginkel says the Iowa Concern Hotline is not just for farmers, as counselors have been offering advice to anyone who asks for more than 30 years. Phone calls are free and confidential.

“Call and just talk with someone,” she says. “Sometimes, you just need get a few things off your chest and just get rid of some of that stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can just call. You can be anonymous. You don’t have to give us your name.”

Van Ginkel says the economy is usually one of the main topics of discussion. She says they often hear from families who wonder how they’ll make their budget stretch if food prices and other costs continue to rise.

The hotline was set up by the Iowa State University Extension to offer advice to farmers back in the mid-1980s. The hotline is open round-the-clock at 800-447-1985.

(Thanks to Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)