Farm Economy In Crisis | June 28, 2018

Farm Aid Statement on CDC Retraction of Farmer Suicide Statistics

June 28, 2018

Brittany Vanderpool

Farm Aid Statement on CDC Retraction of Farmer Suicide Statistics

Farmer Stress, Mental Health, Suicide Still Serious Issues and Continued Priorities

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Based on a 30 percent increase during 2018 in calls to their farmer hotline and feedback from family farm partners around the country, Farm Aid says it will continue to prioritize farmer stress, despite a retraction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of their finding that farmers and agricultural workers have the highest suicide rate in the country.

Today, Farm Aid released a statement on this issue from Communications Director Jennifer Fahy.

“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. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, depression and even suicide are some of the tragic consequences of these pressures. America’s family farmers — reduced in numbers since the Farm Crisis of the 1980s — have approached endangered status.

Net income for farmers is estimated to be more than 50 percent lower in 2018 than it was in 2013. Rural families, particularly those in agricultural communities, are suffering no matter which way you slice the data. It is also deeply concerning that farmworkers are so vulnerable to suicide. 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 coverage of the suicide rate for farmers has served as a critical reminder to the public about the condition of our farms and our rural economies, and it’s crucial to uncover the full picture. 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. Confusion and lack of resolution on policies like trade, immigration and healthcare accelerate the crisis.

We urge the administration and Congress to pay attention to the root cause of rural communities’ stress. 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.”

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 thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms

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