Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Brent Royce, OFA Director
The taboo of talking about mental health is slowly breaking down. Celebrities and athletes started the conversation, paving the way for the rest of society to openly acknowledge the challenges we can face from the stresses of everyday life.
And it’s no different on the farm. Farmers are well aware of the stresses they face every day. Weather that challenges our skills as farmers, sick livestock, fluctuating markets, managing diseases and pests, dealing with rising input costs and working with family are all significant stressors. Cumulatively they can have a devastating impact on our ability to cope.
The Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph recognizes this and is researching mental wellness with Ontario producers. They are looking for participants to share their experiences with mental wellness and resilience in the agricultural community.
Researchers would like to talk to producers, agricultural industry support staff and veterinarians working with livestock producers. Participants will have a one-on-one, in-person interview for about an hour. There will be a five to 10 minute survey to complete. For their time and input, participants will receive an honorarium.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages interested members to contact the OVC researchers and share their stories and experiences. Contact information is posted at ofa.on.ca.
This year has been a particularly tough one across Ontario, and OFA encourages members to consider the mental wellbeing of family members, employees and neighbours as you work through the busy summer season. The physical hazards on the farm can be more obvious than the stresses than impact our outlook.
Be a good listener if someone you know is struggling. Take the time to check in over coffee with the people around you. Mental health is as important as physical health, even on the farm.