Farmer’s Killing Themselves —

The article below brushes the surface of the problems faced on the farm. Farmers are the most pro-life bunch of people you will encounter. The hopelessness resulting from market control and lack of access to viable markets is multiplying….Be a revolutionary and buy direct from a farmer. ….

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July 26, 2009, 8:17 AM ET
The Human Toll: Farmer Suicides on the Rise

Fluctuations in oil prices over the last couple years have received no shortage of headlines, but they’re not the only commodity that has seen an increase – followed by a collapse – in prices. The same has happened in agriculture, and the impact of sharply lower prices combined with weak demand and tight credit is taking a devastating toll on farmers.

In Colorado, for example, 14 farmers and ranchers took their lives last year, double the rate five years ago, according to the Denver Post. In Maine, the Bangor Daily News has reported of at least three known farmer suicides so far this year. Two dairy famers in California have taken their lives in the last six months. The Iowa-based “Sowing the Seeds of Hope” hotline, which serves farmers in seven Midwest states, has fielded about 11,000 calls through April, a 20% increase from the same period a year ago, according to the Post and the Iowa Independent.

“The increase in calls really started with the change in dairy prices, as they fell last fall,” Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist and farmer who heads the hotline jointly sponsored by AgriWellness and Iowa State University Extension, told the Post.

Scott Hoese, a Minnesota dairy farmer, described the industry’s struggles in testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy & Poultry on Tuesday.

“Dairy farmers of all sizes and across all regions of the country are enduring an unprecedented disaster,” he said. “Equity is rapidly disappearing, market prices remain at 1970 levels, creditors are cutting off producers – yet there is no relief in sight.”

“As quickly as dairy prices peaked last year, they have just as quickly collapsed and have been well below the cost of production,” he said. “Our latest data shows consumers paying $4.99 for a pound of cheddar cheese while the farmer receives less than $1.00; farmers receive $0.97 out of the $2.99 consumers pay for a gallon of fat free milk. At a time when more consumers are eating at home, thereby increasing retail dairy product sales, producers are losing money on every gallon of milk sold.”

The global nature of the current downturn has also taken a toll, he said, wiping out other nations’ demand for U.S. agricultural exports. “Time is of the essence for dairy producers. Many continue to lose $100-$200 per dairy cow per month with no immediate increase in the market on the horizon,” he said. “As a producer, it has been frustrating, to say the least, to weather one of the worst economic periods in 30 years yet it seems as though our society as a whole has not grasped how desperate our situation is.”

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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