Corder's Corner

Understanding the Unseen Struggles in Agriculture

In the realm of agricultural production, numerous stress factors loom over farmers, many of which are completely out of their hands. From battling severe droughts to coping with devastating floods, agricultural producers face a myriad of challenges that can significantly impact their livelihoods. The daily grind of managing milk production or the seasonal demands of overseeing crops and livestock further compound these pressures. Unfortunately, the toll of such stressors can have dire consequences, as highlighted by the unsettling statistic that farmer suicides were 3.5 times higher than the national average in 2019, with a troubling upward trend over the past decade, according to the CDC.

The unique strain experienced by farmers and their families, known as farm stress, is deeply rooted in the agricultural work environment. The fear of losing a farm extends far beyond mere financial implications; for many, farming embodies a generational legacy, a cherished way of life, and a fundamental part of their identity. The weight of potentially forfeiting the farm and failing to pass it on to the next generation weighs heavily on the shoulders of farmers and ranchers alike. The relentless toil, exhaustion, and both physical and emotional strain eventually took a toll on the entire family unit.

The silent struggles of farmers underscore the importance of recognizing and addressing farm stress within the agricultural community. By shedding light on these unseen challenges, we can foster a greater understanding of the complexities involved in agricultural production and support initiatives aimed at promoting the well-being of farmers and their families. In doing so, we can work towards building a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector that not only thrives economically but also prioritizes the health and welfare of those who dedicate their lives to feeding the world.

5 Contributing Factors to Farm Stress:

  • Weather and climate
  • Tariffs and commodity pricing
  • Debt load, equipment repairs
  • Extreme outdoor work conditions
  • Fatigue and excessive workload

Stress and depression increase the probability of injury, accidents, heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, and disease, among others.

A National American Farm Bureau Poll conducted by Morning Consult found:

  • 52% of rural adults and 61% of farmers/farm workers were experiencing more stress and mental health challenges compared to the previous year.
  • Farmers/farmworkers reported a 22% increase in social isolation, which impacts farmers’ mental health, a noteworthy finding given the long hours many farmers work alone.
  • Stigma is still attached in the agriculture community to seeking help or treatment for mental health, even though it has decreased.
  • Farmers/farm workers reported they are more comfortable talking to friends, family, and their doctors about stress and mental health than they were in 2019.
  • Younger rural adults are more likely than older rural adults to admit they are experiencing more stress and mental health challenges compared to a year ago, and they are more likely than older rural adults to disclose they have personally sought care from a mental health professional.

The agricultural community encounters mental health obstacles in addition to natural disasters. To address this issue, the American Farm Bureau and Farm Family Wellness Alliance launched Together, an online platform offering mental health assistance. Users have the option to join anonymously, participate in different community groups, and take part in open and supportive dialogues. This platform creates a safe environment for sharing challenges, receiving support, and building camaraderie among fellow agricultural professionals.


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