Farmers are committed and courageous, but natural disasters, changing markets, and work injuries can be devastating.
Agriculture is one of the top 10 most hazardous industries in the U.S.
- Farm owners, managers, and workers have the highest rates of death due to stress-related diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and ulcers.
Markets are unstable, and farm income is decreasing, while debt is increasing.
- Fluctuating prices for crops and commodities, due to trade disputes, oversupply, and declining consumer demand, have caused financial losses for farmers, which can cause prolonged stress.
- Farmers are increasingly dependent on income from second, off-farm jobs for economic survival.
Natural disasters are devastating to farm businesses, farm families, and farming communities.
- The Backwater Floods of 2019 have claimed homes, farms, forests, and livelihoods for thousands of people in the Mississippi Delta. Even after the waters subside, recovery will take years.
- Floods, storms, and wildfires that destroy crops, damage property, and kill animals can drive farmers into crippling debt or force them to leave farming altogether.
- Farmers are the economic backbone of the communities where they live. When disasters prevent planting or make it hard for farmers to buy new trucks, equipment, or even groceries, businesses in their communities suffer, too.
- Many farm workers are wage workers. When the farm they work on is flooded, they can’t work. Often, their employers will try to keep paying them, despite having no income.
Misuse of opioids is a concern in rural areas.
Many farm-related injuries require prescription pain relievers, and opioid misuse in rural communities can become a problem.
- To avoid loss of productivity, farmers and farm workers often don’t take the time for proper treatment of or recovery from an injury. In these situations, an opioid pain reliever is often the quickest way to get back to work.
1 in 4 farmers and farm workers report taking an opioid without a prescription, abusing prescribed opioids, or being addicted to opioids. American Farm Bureau Federation, 2017
3 in 4 farmers and farm workers report they are or have been directly impacted by opioid abuse. American Farm Bureau Federation, 2017
To meet the needs of farmers, Extension has adopted the Mental Health First Aid program, developed in Australia and managed by the U.S. National Council for Behavioral Health.
Extension has certified instructors strategically placed throughout Mississippi, and Extension agents are trained to provide this support and assistance to the residents they work with. Extension’s century-long relationship of respect and trust with farmers and farm families makes our Extension agents uniquely equipped to provide this assistance.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service PROMISE Initiative will launch a webinar series Nov. 17 about farm stress, mental health and social structural issues affecting farmers and ranchers.