Farm Aid says it will continue to prioritize farmer stress, despite a retraction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of their finding that farmers and agricultural workers have the highest suicide rate in the country.
“Increased calls to Farm Aid’s hotline and our work with partners around the country confirm that farmers are under incredible financial, legal and emotional stress,” said Farm Aid Communications Director Jennifer Fahy. “Bankruptcies, foreclosures, depression and even suicide are some of the tragic consequences of these pressures.”
Fahy said Farm Aid has witnessed a 30% increase in calls to their farmer hotline in 2018. Farmers are challenged by a worsening financial situation with net income for farmers estimated to be 50% lower in 2018 than five years earlier.
“It is also deeply concerning that farmworkers are so vulnerable to suicide,” Fahy said. “That points to an urgent need for Congress to pass sound immigration reform policy that addresses the on-the-ground needs of farmers and the needs and rights of farmworkers.”
The news about suicide on the farm has been a critical reminder to the public of the stress on the farm.
“At Farm Aid, we spend our time on the phone with anxious farm families who cannot make ends meet, and who will not be able to improve their situation simply by working harder,” Fahy said. “Confusion and lack of resolution on policies like trade, immigration and healthcare accelerate the crisis.”
She said farmers need farm policy that protects family farmers.
“We urge the administration and Congress to pay attention to the root cause of rural communities’ stress,” Fahy said. “For several decades, farm and trade policies have forced farmers to produce as much as possible, leading to boom-and-bust cycles that drive small farms out of business and compel mid- and large-sized farms to keep getting bigger. We need farm policy that delivers fair prices to farmers and the resources that provide a safety net when farmers need it.”
About Farm Aid
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $53 million to support programs that help farmers.
Source: Farm Aid