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Challenges in farming: Mental health struggles among farmers

"We have such a small window to make our livelihood, and if everything don’t go right, everything can go wrong."
Mental health challenges in farmers
Posted at 9:29 AM, Jun 25, 2024

LAFAYETTE, La. — Farming is a vital occupation that helps to ensure fresh produce on our tables, but at the same time comes with immense pressures that often go unnoticed.

According to the American Farm Bureau, farmers are 2.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the national average.

KATC spoke with Kevin Ardoin, owner of Cafe 20.3 and Zydeco Farms, who supplies his kitchen with homegrown vegetables that he cultivates year round.

We have seen farmers all across Acadiana go through challenges due to last year's drought and high temperatures hitting their fields hard, which in turn leaves them to work even longer hours, with more financial burden and less time to focus on their mental health.

"Farming is just so super stressful. There’s so many variables we can’t control. We put in the work and do everything we can, and we just have to sit back and count on God and nature to pull us through, and every year it's a constant gamble, and we have such a small window to make our livelihood, and if everything don’t go right, everything can go wrong, so we definitely deal with mental health issues,” Ardoin said.

Ardoin is in his sixth farming season, and he cultivates tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and okra. The relentless demands of farming—long hours, financial strain, and little to no downtime for farmers—makes it difficult to prioritize their mental health. Recognizing these challenges, the Louisiana Farm Bureau has developed resources to support farmers statewide, promoting the slogan, "A healthy farm or ranch is nothing without a healthy you".

To find a link to those resources, keep scrolling.

“Farming is already a lonely occupation, and then I farm here in the city, so I don’t have anyone to talk to, and we always so busy, so right now we have 16-18 hour days, so we don’t have time to sit, talk and vent,” Ardoin said.

For farmers in need of mental health assistance, resources, like the American Farm Bureau's Farm State of Mind program, offer crucial support. These initiatives aim to address the mental health crisis within farming communities, advocating for the well-being of those whose tireless efforts sustain our food supply.