LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted April 30, 2019
In 1985, Agriculture suffered a financial crisis. Many of your readers will remember the turmoil that it caused. The State of Illinois and the then Cooperative Extension Service mounted a campaign called "Rural Partners," in which a large number of people, Farm Business Farm Management field men, Farm Service Agency personnel, Extension Advisers, State of Illinois Ag department personnel and others were trained in Ag finance and Mental Health principles. They were then sent back to their jobs with instructions to work with distressed farmers. "Rural Partners" did a lot of good, and probably saved some lives.
Now, we're looking forward to at least ten days more of rain and gloomy weather. Our farmers have their 2019 supplies; fuel, seed, fertilizer, chemical, and labor purchased. Many still have last year's crop in storage, seeking a somewhat higher price, at least above their 2018 costs. And prices for the 2019 crop are, at this time, even lower. And, I haven't even mentioned the National and Global situations, causing more uncertainty. "There is no joy in Mudville," this year. Our local farmers are experiencing a lot of stress and concern for the future.
One farmer I know is working on his farm records, then going out and diddling with the machinery, to be sure it's good to go, coming in and looking at his farm records, going out and diddling with the machinery.... You get the picture. Others are sitting glumly looking out the window with no energy. All signs of concern leading to out-and-out depression. It's not a good situation, and 1985 comes to mind. In Mudville, "the Mighty Casey struck out!
It's up to us to change this! We need to find support for our Agricultural Community! Farmers first, but the members of the support industries, seed salesmen, fertilizer sales, and so on as their income will also be affected. Here in the county, we can't restore Rural Partners, but we can do many of the things they did.
An immediate solution is our Christian County or your local YMCA. We have a good "Y" (YMCA) where stressed individuals can work out or swim and burn up some of the excess energy. Th Christian County "Y" is helping with a free two week membership for farmers and their families. I know, it sounds schmaltzy, but for someone chomping at the bit to get going, it is a viable outlet and one not many people consider. Who knows, you might get into a habit of going regularly. One doesn't burn much energy thumbing through the records day after day, or pacing the floor. And there's only so much coffee one can drink at the fast food shop!
We have a strong mental health counseling resource in our Religious and Medical Community. Pastors throughout the county can listen, offer solace and consolation to help deal with the stress. They, members of The Ag Support Industry, can listen and offer ways to help improve efficiency or lessen cost. Spouses can listen and console.
Most all the tradesman our farmers deal with can be helpful. And, as is the case with stress, it can bust out (explode) anywhere with any sort of trigger. I'm asking that we all be aware, and be ready to give time to a farmer to listen to a "good vent". We have been told to "Love our neighbor!", now is the time!
Dr . Bill Harryman