The Choice to Farm is a Big Commitment

How hard is it to be in agriculture? Being a producer in agriculture requires a commitment unlike any other. Day in and day out, the life of a producer revolves around the work to be done on their land. In her latest podcast, Jenn Colby raises the question if choosing to farm is really enough to find purpose in your life. Some make the choice to farm out of a compulsion to be a part of something bigger than themselves or because they see the greater value in contributing to the food system. 

I think sometimes the choice to farm also means that folks choose not to have a life. They may not recognize it as that, or they may choose a certain kind of a life, but farmers and ranchers deserve to have a life. And choosing to farm doesn't automatically set them up for that.

- Jenn Colby

Individuals in the agriculture community know all too well the challenges of external forces out of their control – weather, disease, government regulation, land access, cost of living, etc. Being a farmer is not easy by traditional job standards. However, an often unspoken challenge that when left untended can actually be a point of demise is that of internal reflection. How often do you as a producer, farmer, land owner, or individual in agriculture ask yourself what is it that you want? Jenn brings up many “food for thought” points to reflect on. As producers, we can change how we manage our livestock or whether we sell off during the winter to give ourselves an “off-season”, but to work on our own mental health seems more difficult or out of reach. We offer excuses that we don’t have time for that sort of thing or worry about how our peers will view us as a result of it. USA Today states that the rate of suicide among farmers is 3.5 times higher than that of the general population. At such an alarming rate, one would think that the decision to invest in ourselves as much as we do our farms would come easily and yet we continue to delay the work. 

Perhaps the obstacle we face does not revolve around just ourselves but rather an engrained mantra we give credence to – success is defined by how profitable your farm is. 

If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.