When Times Get Tough Don’t Forget the Spouses

2019 Sawyer Family Pic

I am privileged to not only work for a member of Congress who serves on the House agriculture committee but has made agriculture one of his top priorities.

But when the days is done, I get to come home to the farm and move into my most cherished role of mother and wife.

It’s no secret that times have been tough for nearly everyone in agriculture. It started well before President Trump took office and has been compounded by weather events, the China trade dispute and ongoing trade negotiations with other countries. Things are beginning to look up, but it’s going to take months, if not a few years, to return to the glory days.

A lot has been made about the sharp rise in farmer suicides and farm bankruptcies, both troubling indicators of the conditions in rural America. In response, my boss and others in Washington D.C. have done a great deal of work to provide farmers and rural communities more resources to deal with mental stress and suicide.

From funding and reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to the FCC moving to a three-digit suicide hotline (9-8-8), there is a lot of work being done to ensure that farmers have access to resources and those around them can better detect and report signs of mental stress or suicide.

But as a farm wife, I want to encourage everyone to stop and take a second to ensure they are reaching everyone on the farm. Farm spouses – those not active on the farm everyday but keeping the home running, kids fed and extra chores done – can also suffer from the same stressors and hardships.

For those farm spouses that are home most days and caring for multiple young kids and a hectic household, the financial stress can compound everyday stresses of family life. And during really busy seasons, farm spouses can feel like they are juggling it all themselves because their farmers and ranchers are spending long hours in the field.

For everyone that works with or around farmers and ranchers, I encourage you to take a moment and ask about the spouse at home. Farmers may get the credit for their time in a tractor, but many farm wives carry far more responsibilities than others see and realize.  Farming is a family endeavor and everyone tends to feel the pain when things aren’t going well and margins are tight.

The Managing Farm Stress is a collaborative efforts supported by American Farm Bureau Federal, National Farmers Union and Michigan State University and provides excellent resources and training opportunities for those who work with farmers and rancher. Click HEREto learn more.

It’s the holiday season and a perfect time to check in with your favorite farmer and rancher – and don’t forget about the spouse!

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