Just last year, farmers were rejoicing in high commodity prices. This year, the Denver Post’s Miles Moffeit reports, “increasing numbers of farmers are considering taking their lives.” The Iowa-based Sowing Seeds of Hope provides help lines for farmers in seven Midwestern states and reports that there has been a 20 percent increase in calls this year compared to the same period in 2008. The Seeds of Hope hotline received 9,000 calls through May in 2008; this year, about 11,000 have called.
“The increase in calls really started with the change in dairy prices, as they fell last fall,” said Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist and farmer who heads Sowing the Seeds of Hope. “We’re starting to see the stress mount. It’s a nationwide problem.” In Colorado, Moffeit reports, “the collapse of the state’s largest agricultural lender, New Frontier Bank of Greeley, has further exposed personal plights. Farmers on the edge of bankruptcy have tearfully pleaded for help from government leaders in recent public meetings.” The greatest increase in calls to the Seeds of Hope hotline have come from dairy and hog farms. Calls from those farm operators have jumped 40 percent from 2008
Congress has considered a Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, but hasn’t passed the bill. The National Farmers Union is lobbying federal officials to activate a national hotline network, according to the Post.