Sask. drought taking its toll on farmers' mental health, advocate says
A disastrous growing season may be taking a toll on farmers' mental health, according to one advocate.
Adelle Stewart, executive director of the Do More Agriculture Foundation who focus on mental health in agriculture across Canada said the dry weather is causing a number of problems.
“We have heard and seen some photos where the crops this year haven’t grown higher than the stubble in the field from last year, literally ground just breaking apart, there’s been videos of people putting their hands down up to their forearms or their elbows into crevices into the dirt that has just broken apart,” said Stewart.
Stewart says these stories keep pouring in and she anticipates they are only going to continue until harvest starts.
With the poor harvest conditions, many farmers are feeling the effects of mental and financial stress including Steven Donald who owns and operates his family farm near Moosomin.
He said the pressure of this year's growing season has been overwhelming at times.
"You want to give your best to your children and I always thought farming was a great thing but sometimes now when it gets to the point when the risk is so high for the cost of inputs and machinery, just the uncertainty, that to me is what I find is the emotional and mental strain.”
Stewart says while the stigma around mental health for farmers has improved and this season they need all the help they can get.
“The weather, crop health, animal health, trade commodity prices, all of those types of things are outside of the farmer's control and that is their livelihood so their livelihood essentially, is out of control.”
Donald said he is trying to stay positive but as the rain continues to hold off, it is hard to be optimistic.
“We don’t know what is going to happen until the combines hit the field,” said Donald.
“I hope we’re surprised but I don’t think we will be.”