OSU Small Farms offers Free Webinar on Staying Strong during Challenging Times

Publish Date: Summer 2020

Now more than ever, farmers and ranchers face myriad factors out of our control— market, weather, food safety regulations, government programs, and market fluctuations. These factors can lead any of us to experience distress anger, feelings of isolation, and feeling out of control. With the current COVID-19 situation, many people are experiencing what farmers and ranchers cope with on a regular basis- additional stresses associated with living in isolated circumstances and working/living closely with family members.

In May, OSU Extension Small Farms faculty Maud Powell and consultant Angie Boudro put together a webinar on mental health in agriculture called Staying Strong in Trying Times.

The webinar opens with Kit Pharo, a well-known cattle rancher and owner of Pharo Cattle Company telling his personal story. Kit, a popular public speaker who advises cattle ranchers on how to improve the profitability and sustainability of their stock, lost his son to suicide. In the webinar, he speaks candidly about the warning signs of depression, how to help a family member get help, and the impacts of suicide on his family.

Dr. Robert Fetsch spends the rest of the webinar explaining how farmers and ranchers can learn to identify untreated depression and anxiety amongst family and community members, how to have difficult conversations, and how to access resources in times of crisis. Dr. Fetsch served on the faculty of the University of Kentucky Extension and Colorado State University Extension for thirty-two years. He’s spent the past forty-one years learning and teaching about the latest research on family life in order to assist farmers and ranchers bounce back from challenging times.

Access the Webinar: https://media.oregonstate.edu/media/t/1_h7iyy1gg


Farming and ranching are ranked in the top 12 most stressful occupations.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue probably contribute to high levels of farming and ranching accidents.

Understandably, many farmers and ranchers experience depression, with the risk of depression increasing if, in the past year, the farmer or rancher:

  • Lost something of sentimental value, including a spouse
  • Experienced substantial income decline
  • Acquired large amounts of debt
  • Had legal problems
  • Experienced an increase in health problems
  • Lost meaning, such as stepping back from management or retiring

Signs of depression include:

  • Sadness
  • inability to experience genuine pleasure
  • significant weight loss or gain (not due to dieting)
  • loss of energy
  • excessive sleep and/or middle of the night insomnia
  • lethargy
  • agitation
  • inappropriate guilt
  • feeling worthless
  • inability to concentrate
  • preoccupied with negatives and/or recurrent thoughts of suicide.

There is help! A combination of taking good care of yourself, exercise, counseling and medication will help!