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Farmers Union Wants USDA to Proactively Address Farm Suicides
USAgNet - 05/17/2018

Many farmers and ranchers are coping with alarming levels of stress, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should serve a critical role in providing support to farmers in crisis, according to the nation's second largest general farm organisation National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to proactively address the farmer suicide crisis. Farmers and ranchers commit suicide at a rate five times that of the general population.

"Farming is a high-stress occupation," said Johnson. "Due to the prolonged downturn in the farm economy, many farmers are facing even greater stress. USDA's national reach uniquely positions the Department to assist farmers and ranchers during times of crisis. We urge you to leverage your vision for collaboration across USDA and the entire federal government to develop a response to the farm suicide crisis."

Johnson says financial risk, volatile markets, unpredictable weather, social isolation, and heavy workloads can all place significant strain on farmers' and ranchers' mental and emotional well-being. A 2016 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that farmers had a much higher rate of suicide than any other occupation.

"This is exacerbated by the fact that 60 percent of rural residents live in areas that suffer from mental health professional shortages," he noted.

Farmers and ranchers who are coping with elevated levels of stress are encouraged to visit FarmCrisis.NFU.org to find resources that can help during tough times.

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