Rain, rain go away and come back some other day.
Flooded fields, unplanted crops, washed-out culverts and lost gravel have heaped additional stress on farmers, township and county governments. Iowa and Minnesota share the misery with many other states that make up the nation’s breadbasket.
Although commodity markets have responded somewhat, it is not enough to make up for lost crops and government budgets stretched beyond their meager means. It’s hoped a disaster declaration is forthcoming so governments can repair rural infrastructure.
Farmers — an optimistic bunch — know well that 2019 is a hold-on type of year and hope that 2020 brings better weather.
Stress is a silent stalker, an enemy that robs its targets of happiness and ultimately their health. Farmers who endured through the 1980s crisis often say that without the help of friends, clergy and health care professionals, they might not have survived.
Suicide rates among farmers is higher than for other segments of society. A study of farmer suicides conducted in 2017 and published in the Journal of Rural Health reported that American farmers had suicide rates three to five times higher than in other occupations from the early 1990s to 2010.
A recent national study of farmers found that 45 percent of respondents considered themselves to be high stressed and 58 percent had instances of high anxiety.
Farming is both a profession and a way of life. The isolation inherit in farming can make it difficult for farmers to reach out for help. Mental health resources are not so readily available in rural areas, but it is available.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a farm and rural helpline that’s in operation around the clock. The helpline offers both immediate help and can direct callers to professionals for longer-term assistance. Its number is 1-833-600-2670. Iowa Concern offers help at 1-800-447-1885.
It’s important for farmers and rural residents to reach out and not keep stress bottled up inside. To seek help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Financial stress can rip families apart. Children and marriages can be damaged.
This growing season will long be remembered for near-record and record rainfall. Let’s hope that the year will also be remembered because farmers and rural residents bonded to help each other survive through difficult times.