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Weekly Column: Reaching Out To Idaho Farmers And Ranchers In Crisis

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Farming and ranching are inherently risky, and the risk can fuel stress.  Farmland and modern farming equipment are incredibly expensive.  Demands on the land and water needed to farm continually increase.  Regulations get ever more complicated.  Farm labor is limited or insufficient.  Many depend on local farmers and ranchers, who give their all to supporting local families and their communities.  The American Farm Bureau reports that multiple studies show farmer suicide rates are 2-5 times higher than the national average.  And, while these numbers are discouraging, I am encouraged by those raising awareness about where to turn for help to try to reach those who feel alone in these struggles.

The American Farm Bureau, which, among others, is working to build awareness to reduce stigma and provide access to information and resources that promote farmer and rancher mental health wellness, reports, “Experiences such as natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial uncertainty, fluctuating markets, labor shortages, trade disruptions and other factors all contribute to extreme stress for farmers and ranchers who often live in a very isolated setting.  It is important to break the stigma around mental health challenges and encourage those struggling to reach out for help.”  The organization conducted a survey in which farmers and farmworkers identified the following impacts to farmers’ mental health:

  • Financial issues (91 percent);
  • Farm or business problems (88 percent);
  • Fear of losing the farm (87 percent);
  • Other factors included stress, weather, the economy, isolation and social stigma.

Ensuring everyone knows where to turn for help to prevent suicide and receive crisis intervention has been one of my top priorities.  All Americans now have access to the 3-digit, 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  People in crisis can call or text 988 to connect confidentially with life-saving resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare also provides many resources, including resources to assist Idahoans who have lost a loved one to suicide, at  The Idaho State Department of Agriculture also has producer-focused information and resources available at

As Congress works to reauthorize the Farm Bill ahead of its September 30 expiration, I am keeping the needs of Idaho farmers and ranchers at the forefront as I advocate for a strong safety net that provides what producers need while facing a challenging farm economy and helps ensure the continuation of important research, promotion and conservation programs.  I continue to advocate for making wise use of taxpayer dollars while providing an appropriate safety net and risk management tools to enable Idaho farmers and ranchers to weather difficult times and make continued advancements.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, “Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.”  The agriculture community is among important segments of our population, including veterans and those serving in the National Guard, who have unfortunately experienced particularly high rates of suicide in recent years.  Each loss devastates families and communities.  I commend those reaching out for help, sharing experiences and breaking down barriers to connect with those in crisis.

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