Coping with Farm Stress

Stress and Farming

Even in good times agriculture is a stressful occupation. Farmers own and operate private small businesses. They often have little control over the prices they receive for their products – mainly crops and livestock – and input costs for seed, fertilizer, feed, etc. can fluctuate drastically. For many, their success depends on the weather which is extremely unreliable. The regulatory environment for agriculture has changed significantly over the past few decades Farmer Stress 1and the prices of farm products are heavily impacted by government trade policies and practices.

Since 2013 net farm income has declined by about 50% nationally. In Indiana this is even more severe. Net farm income in 2018 was 61% lower than in 2013.

Is it any wonder that farmers and farm families are feeling stressed?

If you are a farmer and are feeling stressed, you are not alone. This website and the programs and information available through the Purdue Extension Farm Stress Team are designed to help you cope with stress. We are not able to raise commodity prices or reduce the costs of seed, fertilizer and fuel. However we can suggest strategies to help you work through those times when you may be feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of farming.

What is the Most Important Asset on a Farm?

If you were to ask a group of farmers this question you might receive many answers. Those involved in crop production might say the land. A dairy farmer might say the cows. Some may mention equipment, grain storage and handling systems, a confinement hog building, a greenhouse, or some other physical asset, depending on the type of farming operation.

The Purdue Farm stress believes the most important farm assets are farmers, farm families and farm employees. Everything else is replaceable. You are not. This site is dedicated to helping take care of this most important farm asset – you.

What is Stress? What does it look like?

Stress is a bodily response to a challenging event. Not all stress is bad. Stress can help us to meet a challenge. A person approaching a job interview is likely feeling stress however this may also help his or her performance. However chronic, long-term stress can lead to a variety of negative impacts, both physically and mentally.

Five Things About Stress

5 Things You Should Know about Stress: 19-mh-8109-5-things-stress_142898

This publication from the National Institute of Mental Health covers five basic principles about stress; stress affects everyone, not all stress is bad,  long-term stress can be harmful, there are actions you can take to manage stress , and help is available if you are feeling overwhelmed.


Farm Stress Effects


How Stress Affects You

Publication – How Stress Affects You: Farm_Stress_Handout_Stress_Affects_You_FINAL

Sometimes we are feeling stress and don’t know it. This publication covers the impacts stress may have on our bodies and our thoughts. Learning about these signs and symptoms will help you realize when you may be feeling stressed.

How can I Cope with my Own Stress?

There are many strategies you can use to help reduce stress. These publications provide some helpful suggestions.

Stress BRAIN

Stress Strategy – B.R.A.I.N.: Farm_Stress_Handout_Stress_FINAL

This publication reviews five quick, easy mental exercises you can do to help reduce your feelings of stress.



Handling Stress


Cultivate Mindset

How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset: Farm_Stress_Handout_Productive_Mindset_FINAL

There are some quick strategies you can use to help reduce the impacts of stress. This publication covers three of them.


Combat Stress


Create a Stress Action Plan

When you farm you have a plan. You create additional plans for issues such as pest issues, crop nutrient management and livestock nutrition. You can create a plan for farm stress. These two publications can help.


SDSU 5-Step Approach

Five-Step Approach to Alleviating Farm Stress: 5 Step Approach – SDSU

This publication from South Dakota State University describes five steps farmers can take to help with farm stress.


Action PlanYour Farm Stress Action Plan: Farm_Stress_Handout_Action_Plan_FINAL

This is a document we use in our face-to-face farm stress programs. However it is useful on its own. By completing this action plan and resolving to follow it, you can make significant progress towards reducing the impacts of stress.