I just finished reading this article by Debbie Weingarten, who left farming to learn more about – and maybe find answers to – farmer suicide. It’s heartbreaking.
The land has an energy all of its own; it can change your frequency if you let it. Working the land and growing crops have indeed become the easy part. It’s all the other stuff that tears at a farmer’s soul: debt, costs, prices, global markets, trade deals … and the lack thereof. Nearly all of these other things are out of one’s control, and nearly all have more power then oneself to change the future.
I’ve been talking with people about their land recently, and it amazes me that a farmer can build up a fortune in land, and still not have enough for a sustainable farm. (And by sustainable, I am using the farmer’s definition, which is “I make enough money to farm again next year.”) It amazes me how many farmers are in their 80s and 90s, sitting on that fortune, still doing the daily chores, hoping they can pass it on to another generation.
Today, as I write this, there are still inches of snow on the ground that should be warming itself underneath a spring sun. The weather this year is just as cruel as economics have been on the families who make their living and lives on a patch of ground, no matter how big or small.
Land is venerable. And so are the men and women who work it. But unlike the land, which is unbreakable, the tough farmers and ranchers are not. As an industry, we should work to make sure that those who want to leave farming walk away, rather than being carried off.