The landscape of agriculture has been full of uncertainties and challenges. During the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation’s virtual convention, a panel discussed the trying times seen in the industry, how they affect mental health, and how to respond to the challenge.
For a large number of farmers and ranchers, the fear of losing the farm takes a toll on their mental state and causes much anxiety, the panelists said.. For many ranchers and farmers, the operation they have taken over has been in the family for many generations, and they worry about being the one farmer, the one generation, that loses the farm. That is a terrifying and lingering thought that many producers must face daily, panelists said.
“There’s a long history and a long legacy of farming in my family. As we were beginning to approach the harvest season during my senior year, we found out there was a disease outbreak in our strawberries. We ended up having a crop failure instead of a crop harvest. For my father, it felt like the best decision was to take his own life. In having so many years to reflect on it, I think there is a lot to do with the pressure of carrying on the multigenerational operation, knowing that that legacy was there and maybe not wanting to let his family down,” Sewell said.
Another obstacle is the negative stigma around needing or asking for help with one's mental health.