It’s been a rough year. Every day in my career as director of Brownfield Ag News, I talk to people who are negatively impacted by low commodity prices and rising production expenses. They are overwhelmed by regulations and weed and insect resistance.
The uncertainty of global trade, the learning curve to keep up with new technology and what some see as a changing culture brought about by mergers and acquisitions of major ag companies and cooperatives all impact farmers and others involved in agriculture today.
My husband and I farm and the people with whom we spend most of our time are either farmers or work in agriculture. We all face many of the same concerns.
Weather and a changing climate are also a concern, but turned out to be the wildcard so far in 2019. Historic flooding has occurred from California to the Midwest to the Southern Plains of the United States.
Families have lost their homes, their businesses, their farms, their livestock and even their towns. Roads and bridges and railroad tracks have been washed away. Levees have breached. People have died.
Millions of acres that would have been corn and soybean fields remain unplanted. Fields of grass that would have been turned into one of the best hay crops we’ve ever had remain untouched.
The television weatherman rejoices that we’ll have a “dry day,” so farmers can get back in the fields. He doesn’t understand that a dry day doesn’t mean the soil is ready or the hay will dry.
The physical exhaustion coupled with financial and emotional stress is overwhelming. You can only stack sandbags so high, and no matter how optimistic farmers are supposed to be, there is a breaking point.
I have always had the bad habit of internalizing my emotions. My senior English teacher, Mrs. Franseen, recognized this characteristic in me. She was an amazing teacher who nurtured my love for reading and writing, but her greatest gift to me was the message she wrote when she signed my yearbook.
Mrs. Franseen wrote that the Boy Scouts of America have a Scout Law with 12 points. Each is a goal for every scout. The scout tries to live up to the law every day.
My teacher wrote to me that it is important to try, but sometimes the scout is not trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent — and that is OK.
Feeling overwhelmed and sad and angry and frustrated are all very human emotions that we have earned. However, if these emotions have morphed into something more serious, please do not try to tackle depression and anxiety on your own. Get help.
The National Suicide Hotline — 800-273-8255 — offers free 24/7 confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved one and best practices for professionals.
It is OK if you are not optimistic right now. Cut yourselves some slack. Go back to being optimistic tomorrow.