Agriculture and the farming industry is important for the health of our economy and our nation. Food production is a necessity. When farmers are in crisis and face challenges in their work, it impacts the entire industry and the food supply of our nation as well as others who depend on food from American sources. Over the past five years, the income of farmers has been steadily dropping. The crisis facing farmers goes beyond just food supply; it is affecting their wallets and their livelihood.
The rising costs to operate a farm and the erratic weather patterns due to climate change are taking a big toll on farms, especially rural operations that are seeing their incomes plummet. These factors are causing mental stress, depression, and growing suicide rates among farmers who are having a difficult time coping with these hardships. Some experts say that farmers have the highest suicide rate of any profession.
Where can Farmers Get Help?
At one time the United States Federal Office of Rural Health Policy funded a program called, Sowing the Seed of Hope, a phone outreach for rural communities to seek help. The program ran from 1999 to 2010. However, due to lack of funding, the program was stopped, and a new program called NY FarmNet took its place. NY Farmnet provides free and confidential advice to farmers who are trying to build or maintain their farming operations and help them cope with the plethora of challenges that face them. Some of the services of NY Farmnet include:
Business and Financial Planning
Consultants at NY Farmnet are well versed in farm operations and can help new and emerging farmers create a business plan for success. They provide free assistance with creating a business analysis, which may include feasibility studies, budget and financial planning, and cash flow projection.
Personal Well-Being and Stress Reduction
With farmers experiencing financial struggles that lead to personal stress and anxiety, NY FarmNet provides farmers with resources to manage stress that may improve their personal well-being and health.
NY Farmnet consultants help farmers find ways to manage stress-related and emotional issues or alcoholism and drug abuse problems that may develop due to the problems that many farmers are facing every day in their operations. NY FarmNet has compiled material that helps farmers and others working in the agricultural or farming industry learn more about stress and how to cope with it.
Building Better Relationships with Family
Most farms are operated by families working together to produce food for the communities they serve. To be successful, farming families need to learn how to deal with the challenges that might impact the family unit. Consultants at NY Farmnet help farming families learn to set goals, manage time, reduce family conflicts, and maintain healthy family relationship,s which can impact the business in positive ways.
Whether you are a conventional or organic farmer, the problems that face the farming industry are similar. Farmers are the creators and caretakers of the food we eat, and we should make sure that they too are taken care of and continue to thrive off of the businesses they have created for all of us to enjoy.