; Kentucky Farmers and Stress Management | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Kentucky Farmers and Stress Management

Natalie Gupton and Kristie Guffey


It is estimated that the United States economy loses $300 billion each year due to stress-related issues such as accidents, absenteeism, turnover and diminished productivity. While in most white-collar jobs the consequences are not immediate or less obvious, in farming they are blatant. Consequences can result in unharvested crops, extended hours, severe injury or even death. The mental health and well-being of farmers has been overlooked for far too long. Subsequently, our country has reached crisis level of the number of suicides among farmers.

Penn State Extension published an article on farm stress citing a 2020 study that suicide rates for farmers, ranchers, and ag managers was 43.7 deaths per 100,000 population, a rate significantly higher than that of the overall population and the 6th highest rate among occupational groups.

While this alarming rate has created a movement across the country to direct resources in combating suicide rates, this project intends to prevent our farmers from reaching a point of crisis.

The Workshop was conducted four times in partnership with collaborators - Kentucky Women in Agriculture, Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation and the Young Farmers Association. AgSafe worked in conjunction with partners to target beginning producers, small farms and women producers.

Some highlights of this project are:
- Overall participation = 208 individuals
- Exceed proposed participation goal by 148 individuals
- Conducted five iterations of the workshop with a total of seven different groups (and another to come after grant period)
- Average level of understanding of human risk at the conclusion of the workshop was 4.1.
- 75 percent of evaluation respondents committed to incorporating at least one stress mitigation strategy in their daily lives.
- 155 stated that they understand the importance of communication and how it affects family and business relationships, including talking about the future and farm transition.

The overwhelmingly positive response emphasizes the need for more outreach and workshops on this topic.