Delaware Public Media

Delaware Farm Bureau calls for mental health support for farmers

May 10, 2019

The Delaware Farm Bureau is advocating for additional mental health support for farmers across the country and in the First State.

Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins is spotlighting a survey from the National Farm Bureau that says nearly half of all rural adults are experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago.

He points to the long hours, arduous work and social isolation farmers experience and he says there is added stress with the current farm economy.

“When you get into periods where something outside of your control such as a catastrophic event, or when decision makers make decisions that impact the markets that you’re selling into, it complicates the issue, and stress upon stress upon stress can sometimes lead to some mental health challenges,” said Wilkins.

Wilkins points out farmers make large investments for often meager profit margins. And according to the Farm Bureau Survey, a majority of rural adults say cost, embarrassment and stigma prevent them from seeking help with mental health.

“It is often the nature of an independent person, such as a farmer, sometimes to bottle stuff up and not talk to other people about it,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins adds he hopes Congress will appropriate $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network as approved in last year’s Farm Bill. Those funds could support programs like farm helplines and websites, peer support training programs for farmers and other outreach services.

Several Delaware farmers qualified for emergency federal loans after excessive rains decimated crops during last year’s grow.