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PostPosted: December 11 17, 10:08 am 
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I know there are some framers here, so I wanted to post this. This might be a worthwhile article to pass along to other farmers to let folks know they aren't alone.

Why are America's farmers killing themselves in record numbers?

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“Farming has always been a stressful occupation because many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producers,” wrote Rosmann in the journal Behavioral Healthcare. “The emotional wellbeing of family farmers and ranchers is intimately intertwined with these changes.”

Last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation. The data suggested that the suicide rate for agricultural workers in 17 states was nearly five times higher compared with that in the general population.

After the study was released, Newsweek reported that the suicide death rate for farmers was more than double that of military veterans.


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Rosmann’s program proved so successful that it became the model for a nationwide program called the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). Rosmann and his colleagues were hopeful that farmers would get the federal support they so desperately needed – but though the program was approved as part of the 2008 US Farm Bill, it was not funded.

While Senator Tom Harkin and other sympathetic legislators tried to earmark money for the FRSAN, they were outvoted. Rosmann says that several members of the House and Senate – most of them Republicans – “were disingenuous”. In an email, Rosmann wrote, “They promised support to my face and to others who approached them to support the FRSAN, but when it came time to vote … they did not support appropriating money … Often they claimed it was an unnecessary expenditure which would increase the national debt, while also saying healthy farmers are the most important asset to agricultural production.”


Quote:
Rosmann has developed what he calls the agrarian imperative theory – though he is quick to say it sits on the shoulders of other psychologists. “People engaged in farming,” he explains, “have a strong urge to supply essentials for human life, such as food and materials for clothing, shelter and fuel, and to hang on to their land and other resources needed to produce these goods at all costs.”

When farmers can’t fulfill this instinctual purpose, they feel despair. Thus, within the theory lies an important paradox: the drive that makes a farmer successful is the same that exacerbates failure, sometimes to the point of suicide.
In an article, Rosmann wrote that the agrarian imperative theory “is a plausible explanation of the motivations of farmers to be agricultural producers and to sometimes end their lives”.


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PostPosted: December 11 17, 1:08 pm 
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I think this is known in farm communities. Every year around here a farmer or two will commit suicide. Even with modern equipment and technology in a good year farming is a hard life. It's a thankless job and farmers are generally looked down upon by a lot of society. The right says they are greedy leeches off the govt, the left says they are killing everyone will GMOs and chemicals. When you drive down the road to get to the next field you are just as likely to get flipped off as you are to get waived to.

Then there is the stigma of getting help. Small communities gossip, and no farmer wants to be seen as weak by going to the doctor for mental help. Also farmers are usually the self sufficient type so help isn't an option anyway.

I think lastly and maybe the biggest is that it's your family's legacy and if that ends with you, if you are the one that lost the farm that guilt is crushing. It's not like a silicon valley start up. When a farm fails you've lost what your father, grandfather, and great grandfather built. It's incredibly hard to make ends meet when farming. As I've said before and Michael shouted me down for being a spoiled rich kid :D If you are a farm of any size at all you start your year six or seven figures in the hole. Then if mother nature doesn't beat you up to bad you might earn enough to do it all again next year.

I guess the summary of that is farming is hard and I'm not surprised farmers kill themselves more than the average Joe.


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PostPosted: December 11 17, 3:52 pm 
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I am not a farmer but I am never far from them with my job and where I live. I was aware of this problem and had heard that stat about their suicide rate being 2X veterans.

Correct me if I'm wrong IMAD but I think a huge problem is CAFOs. My understanding is that the family farm can no longer compete with them on prices for livestock. So the family farm relies totally on crops and those are unreliable and less profitable than "value add" livestock. CAFOs are incredibly powerful special interests and it probably feels hopeless fighting them.


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PostPosted: December 11 17, 3:55 pm 
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So yeah...if you lose your farm to a CAFO, then not only do you lose your farm, but you lose it to an entity that is terrible for the environment, is inhumane to animals and treats workers like [expletive].


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PostPosted: December 11 17, 7:20 pm 
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pioneer98 wrote:
I am not a farmer but I am never far from them with my job and where I live. I was aware of this problem and had heard that stat about their suicide rate being 2X veterans.

Correct me if I'm wrong IMAD but I think a huge problem is CAFOs. My understanding is that the family farm can no longer compete with them on prices for livestock. So the family farm relies totally on crops and those are unreliable and less profitable than "value add" livestock. CAFOs are incredibly powerful special interests and it probably feels hopeless fighting them.



You are not wrong. CAFOs have basically completely destroyed hog, and poultry farming. You might get the farm close to a metro area selling organic free ranged whatever that survives but out here and in most counties the only hog and poultry operations are CAFO's.

In the beef side of things there is still room for the small farmer but it's hard to make a living because beef and commodity prices are pretty depressed and can be volatile. Most beef operations around here are a part time business to supplement something else. Sometime that's a row crop operation but usually it's a job in town.

Dairy is also extinct in rural America. It's just a handful of big time guys supplying everyone.


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PostPosted: December 12 17, 9:18 am 
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IMADreamer wrote:

I think lastly and maybe the biggest is that it's your family's legacy and if that ends with you, if you are the one that lost the farm that guilt is crushing. It's not like a silicon valley start up. When a farm fails you've lost what your father, grandfather, and great grandfather built. It's incredibly hard to make ends meet when farming. As I've said before and Michael shouted me down for being a spoiled rich kid :D If you are a farm of any size at all you start your year six or seven figures in the hole. Then if mother nature doesn't beat you up to bad you might earn enough to do it all again next year.


My tone was wrong in my post, but I do not take back anything I said previously. :wink:


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PostPosted: December 12 17, 11:53 am 
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I didn't know what CAFO stood for. I'm sorry that I google imaged it <<cannot unsee>>


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PostPosted: December 12 17, 12:01 pm 
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The way that we think about our food system says a lot about our society. Why is that we think food should be dirt cheap? Why do Americans have to eat so much damn meat to the point we're all dying of heart disease? Why do we accept an industry that exploits migrant workers so we can stuff our fat faces with low-grade meat from animals that have lived utterly horrible, painful, tortured lives? Do you know how bad for the environment raising cattle is?

If you are what you eat, maybe our food system tells us something about how we got where we are economically and politically these days. Very little that our economic or political system produces is nourishing to our bodies or souls. And we are exporting this degrading system around the world. Before NAFTA, 7% of Mexicans in Mexico were obese. Today obesity in Mexico is off the charts. The family farms that used to supply everyone's food are being put out of business and the country is flooded with American fast food. They send us all their fresh vegetables and we send them [expletive] corn syrup in return.

No wonder American farmers are killing themselves. Life must look bleak as hell from where they are sitting.


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PostPosted: February 4 19, 8:06 am 
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PostPosted: February 4 19, 9:31 am 
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G. Keenan wrote:
The way that we think about our food system says a lot about our society. Why is that we think food should be dirt cheap? Why do Americans have to eat so much damn meat to the point we're all dying of heart disease? Why do we accept an industry that exploits migrant workers so we can stuff our fat faces with low-grade meat from animals that have lived utterly horrible, painful, tortured lives? Do you know how bad for the environment raising cattle is?

If you are what you eat, maybe our food system tells us something about how we got where we are economically and politically these days. Very little that our economic or political system produces is nourishing to our bodies or souls. And we are exporting this degrading system around the world. Before NAFTA, 7% of Mexicans in Mexico were obese. Today obesity in Mexico is off the charts. The family farms that used to supply everyone's food are being put out of business and the country is flooded with American fast food. They send us all their fresh vegetables and we send them [expletive] corn syrup in return.

No wonder American farmers are killing themselves. Life must look bleak as hell from where they are sitting.



Dang this old post really is spot on. I was listening to a podcast yesterday where they interviewed Glenn Greenwald. In addition to his journalism he is evidently a big advocate for animal rights. He was pointing out how our food supply is similar to our war machine. Our military tries to hide all the images of the hideous consequences of bombing people and whatnot. Likewise, we have made it a felony for activists to try to share images from factory farms that would expose how awful they are. He's biased because he is a journalist, but he argued that concealing this information from us is a huge way to keep people going along with these absolutely awful things.


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