The National Farmers Union says many farmers and ranchers are coping with alarming levels of stress, and that farmers and ranchers commit suicide at a rate five times that of the general population.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, NFU President Roger Johnson urged the Department of Agriculture to “develop a response to the farm suicide crisis.”
Johnson noted that financial risk, volatile markets, unpredictable weather, social isolation, and heavy workloads can all place significant strain on farmers’ and ranchers’ mental and emotional well-being.
Johnson highlighted USDA’s vast network, including more than 2,100 Farm Service Agency offices that interact with farmers and ranchers on a daily basis.
He proposed that USDA develops training materials to help FSA personnel better identify and respond to the signs of mental stress, and assess the causes of mental stress in farmers and ranchers, and identify best practices in responding to that stress.