The Mental Health of Farmers
June 9, 2023
mental health of farmers new brunswick homestead family
Category: homestead
The Mental Health of Farmers

I was surprised to see a post about an initiative launched to support the mental health of farmers and promote farm safety in New Brunswick.  The mental health of farmers?  How can anyone close to the land with the delights of raising animals and food have mental health issues?  We should be the most grounded humans around.  In the dirt, out in the sunshine, connected to the community, supporting good food and caring for the land… what could possibly be straining the mental health of farmers? mental health of farmers new brunswick homestead family

Farmers and Mental Health

Whenever it comes to concerns about one’s mental health it’s really important to rather look at the history and the impacts that must be out of that individual’s control.  Most often there are anxieties and cultural movements that are so large that it hinders the ability of individuals, in this case, farmers to work well and confidently in their field.  So what issues are farmers facing that would harm their mental health?

Enhancing Agriculture: Supporting Farmers and Promoting Sustainable Practices

Above all it is crucial to address some common misconceptions and challenges faced by farmers. By dispelling myths and implementing supportive policies, we can empower farmers and promote sustainable agriculture.  This is absolutely key in addressing the mental health of farmers and it’s all very manageable and effective.

Here are some key areas to consider:


Methane and Manure Management:

There is a need to challenge the notion that farm animals are responsible for global warming due to methane emissions.  Methane has important uses in agriculture.  For instance, spreading manure on fields is a common practice that improves soil fertility and provides essential nutrients for plant growth.  This process, known as nutrient recycling or organic fertilization, allows the organic matter in manure to break down over time, releasing valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Another innovative approach is anaerobic digestion, which involves collecting manure and processing it in an anaerobic digester to generate biogas, primarily methane. This allows us to capture methane emissions and utilize them as a renewable energy source. Additionally, the remaining byproduct, known as digestate, can still be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Anaerobic digestion systems offer benefits beyond energy production, including waste management and odour reduction.


There aren’t too many people:

The belief that there are too many people on the planet is a misconception. In fact, there is a need for increased birth rates.  Children help people to be less self-centred and to think more about the future.  They have a sense of wonder that makes life enjoyable and helps us to create beautiful things for them for an abundant future.  Siblings and cousins create a sense of belonging and support for each other while the continuity of life brought by children fosters the passing along of wisdom, knowledge, and values.  Each new child brings unique talents, ideas, inventions, and critical thinking that benefits us all.  Ultimately, with more children comes more opportunity, more entrepreneurs, and more work contributing to society.  Large families should not be seen as a problem, but rather as an opportunity to sustain and enrich our world.


Policies Supporting Local Agriculture and Food Supply:

Implementing policies that support local agriculture and direct sales of farm products can strengthen communities and promote small-scale farming.

An excellent example right close by to us is the “Maine Food Sovereignty Law.”  This law enables municipalities in Maine to adopt local food sovereignty ordinances, allowing local producers to sell certain foods directly to consumers without excessive licensing or inspection requirements. These ordinances give communities the power to regulate local food production and sales, fostering small-scale farming and local food systems.

Additionally, Maine has laws that support cottage food operations. Cottage food laws allow individuals to produce and sell certain low-risk food products from their homes without the need for commercial kitchen facilities or extensive licensing. Supporting cottage food operations can benefit small-scale farmers and home-based food businesses by reducing barriers to entry and promoting local entrepreneurship.

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Promoting Individual Food Choices:

It is crucial to avoid vilifying certain foods, such as meat, which has sustained humans for a very long time. Each person’s dietary needs and preferences may vary, and promoting one way of eating over an entire population is not a good idea. Encouraging individuals to make informed choices that suit their specific nutritional requirements is essential.


Make Food Production Number One on Everyone’s Plate:

Emphasizing the importance of food production should be a priority over any climate change issue. By recognizing the role of good farming practices in improving the world, we can foster sustainable agriculture that nourishes communities and enhances environmental stewardship.  The more people involved in growing their own food the better our world.


Avoiding Government Central Planning:

Let farmers farm.  Stop the over manipulation and controlling of food production.

Government central planning of agriculture can have catastrophic consequences.  For example, millions of people perished in famines in the Soviet Union due to disastrous policies forced upon farmers.

This was the Holodomor, a man-made famine in the Soviet Union (specifically Ukraine) during the early 1930s.  Primarily caused by the agricultural policies of the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin’s regime.

Stalin implemented a policy known as collectivization, which aimed to consolidate individual farms into collective farms. This policy involved forcibly seizing private farmlands and livestock from farmers and organizing them into large-scale state-controlled agricultural enterprises. The government set unrealistic production quotas and requisitioned a significant portion of the grain harvest for export, leaving insufficient food for the local population.

Additionally, the Soviet government implemented harsh penalties and imposed restrictions on the movement of people, which prevented farmers from seeking alternative sources of food or escaping the famine-stricken areas. These policies, coupled with a drought and other factors, led to a severe shortage of food and the starvation of millions of people.

It is essential to recognize the importance of allowing farmers the freedom to make decisions and cultivate their land without excessive manipulation and control.


Protecting Property Rights and Food Sources – Opposing Bill 47

Bill 47 has already passed second reading in the New Brunswick legislature.  Bill 47 poses significant threats to farmers and individuals involved in livestock production. The proposed legislation grants excessive authority to the Chief Veterinary Officer, potentially leading to the loss of animals and equipment. This could particularly impact independent farmers, homesteaders, and even those with a small number of chickens on their property. With the rise in people relying on self-sufficiency to combat food insecurity, the timing of this bill is alarming. Additionally, the potential for unannounced inspections, the forced entry into private properties, and the financial burden of expenses related to livestock seizure and treatment could financially ruin livestock producers. The bill undermines property rights and jeopardizes farmers’ control over their livelihoods and food sources. Please consider writing your MLA right away to protect local food sources, the economy and the integrity of our farmers.  Here is a sample letter with references to assist you.  Write your MLA.  Thank you so much for your help!


Supporting farmers and homesteaders and backyard gardens, bees, and chickens, challenging misconceptions, and implementing favourable policies are vital for advancing agriculture and sustaining our country and our families for the better.  Plus, kids love it.  Let’s embrace sustainable practices, empower farmers, and recognize the pivotal role they play in providing essential food for us all.  We can build a thriving agricultural sector for a better future and a better present!  It just takes commitment and stamina to protect our land one season at a time.

Try buying and selling directly in the countryside.  When you do you know how well the animals are cared for and the state of the land.  It also helps farmers to afford to make their farms better when you buy directly from them.

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Have you shopped in the countryside or in someone’s backyard today?

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