American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product. However, farm life can be demanding and stressful. It is estimated that more than 450 farmers killed themselves across nine Midwestern states from 2014 to 2018. According to a 2020 CDC data, individuals working in Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting were among the top five major industry groups that had the highest suicide rates. Moreover, COVID-19 has exacerbated farmers’ feelings of isolation, and farmers and farm families are needing help with stress and mental health issues.
During this briefing, we heard from an Iowa psychologist and farmer, who has spent over 30 years helping farmers get mental health assistance, on how federal Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network funds can be accessed in Missouri, and how the state, local and private resources have to be combined to address the problem.
We also heard from an MU-Extension researcher and the work that the Missouri AgrAbility Project team is doing. A pharmacist and farmer talked about the immediate multiplying pressures that Missouri farmers & ranchers face everyday, and how he helps address that.
Dr. Michael Rosmann, is a psychologist and farmer who lives in western Iowa. Dr. Mike seeks to advance regional and global food production policy which enhances the behavioral and economic welfare of food producers, maintains stewardship of the land and other resources used in food production and protects the safety of food for consumers.
Read Dr. Rosmann’s recent article about federal assistance for behavioral health services for farmers:
Kathy Dothage, is a professor with the University of Missouri Extension and Education Director, Home and Family Science. Professor Dothage has worked for the University of Missouri Extension for many years, most of those in the field providing informal classes to the citizens of Missouri and is now part of the Missouri AgrAbility Project.
Jason Medows, is a pharmacist, farmer and podcaster/speaker on mental health issues in Missouri. His podcast, Ag State of Mind, reaches farmers and others in rural America regarding the mental health crisis surrounding agriculture. In addition to mental health, Jason also brings into light other aspects of health such as healthy exercise and eating habits, importance of family relationships, and sound financial practices.