Friday, April 12, 2024

Check In With Yourself

amanda huber
Amanda Huber,
Peanut Grower Editor

Once a month, I get an enewsletter with the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer outlining current farmer sentiment. Although from the Midwest, the concerns are pretty universal throughout agriculture.

This month revealed a modest increase in farmer sentiment. When asked about their farm operations, the top concern cited by 34% of respondents was “high input costs,” closely followed by “lower crop/livestock prices,” by 28% of respondents.

The mental health challenges farming communities face is something that is being brought to the forefront. In March, the University of Georgia held their third Farm Stress Summit to address mental health challenges among Georgia farming communities.

Mark McCann, assistant dean for UGA Cooperative Extension and Agriculture and Natural Resources program leader, says, “Speakers at the recent Georgia Ag Forecast program in Tifton shared a challenging outlook for 2024. A dimmer profit perspective translates into added stress for many farmers.”

Although this year’s summit has happened, resources from the past three years’ summits can be found online. Another resource is the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Mental Health Resources website found at www.agr.georgia.gov/mental-health-resources, complete with a test to help you check in with yourself and follow the ABCs of Agricultural Wellness.

Keynote speaker for the 2023 Farm Stress Summit was Marshal Sewell, who also happens to go to my church. Growing up on a multi-generational fruit and vegetable farm in Florida, Marshal was a witness firsthand to what farm stress will do as he and his family had to cope with the suicide of his father. His ministry now has taken shape under the Mind Your Melon concept. I encourage you to visit MindYourMelon.org, read Marshal’s blog or tune into Marshal and his wife Taylor’s podcast.

Marshal has studied farmers and what helps them manage all the stresses a little better. He says, “It is making the time to care for ourselves upfront…before having to take the time to repair ourselves once something goes awry.”

You will do maintenance on tractors, planters, diggers and combines. Will you do maintenance on yourself? How about you check in with yourself and Mind Your Melon? Please.

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