Farmers’ Mental Health Under Strain As Years Of Low Commodities Prices Take Toll

Monday, November 20, 2017
By Paul Martin
November 20, 2017

The multi-year ow commodities prices are wreaking havoc on the health of those we depend on the most. Here’s more…

by Tom Meersman via Star Tribune:

Mental health issues cropping up as financial stress continues on farms

Years of low commodity prices have loaded producers with debt and anxiety.

“When … you’re trying to make a living and can’t, I mean depression is a very real thing out here,” dairy farmer Kevin Stuedemann said.

Organic dairy farmer Kevin Stuedemann knows how it feels to be on the verge of calling it quits.

After several producers in his area went out of business, Stuedemann’s milk buyer ended its contract with him on 30 days’ notice because there were no longer enough organic dairies nearby to justify sending a truck. With 70 cows producing milk, no customers and zero income, Stuedemann searched frantically for a new buyer and took an off-farm job to make ends meet.

“It was a terrible time,” said Stuedemann, 54, who farms about 60 miles southwest of Minneapolis near Belle Plaine. “There was a lot of anxiety, and you wonder why this is happening to me. I had two months of throwing away milk, and I couldn’t continue to do that.”

Minnesota’s farmers are worn down, both financially and emotionally, after nearly half a decade of soft prices that have upended the economics of one of the most important segments of the state’s economy. Many have done their best to cut costs, rebalance debt and stretch out loan payments, but they have also burned through savings and are running on empty.

A recent state survey of bankers, veterinarians and others who work with farmers found that 80 percent had observed an increase in financial worries, more than half noticed higher anxiety levels and more than a third saw higher levels of burnout and depression.

There is no indication that things will get better soon, with commodity prices remaining below what it would take for most farmers to cover their costs. Soybean prices are a third lower than they were in 2013, and corn prices are down by nearly half.

The Rest…HERE

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