Friday, June 5, 2009

American Farmer Suicides

(FROM La Vida Locavore)

American Farmer Suicides
by: Jill Richardson
Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 15:17:40 PM PDT

We've talked at length about Indian farmer suicides, but now things are so bad (particularly in dairy) that it's happening here at home. Not on the same scale as in India, but the very fact that farmers are killing themselves is cause for concern. I first heard of this a week or so ago, but the family involved in that first farmer suicide wasn't talking to the media so I had nothing report. Now (thankfully) a few major publications have covered the topic.
According to the Denver Post fourteen Colorado farmers and ranchers killed themselves in 2008 - double the number of farmer suicides in 2004. And a national crisis hotline network for agricultural workers saw a 20% spike in calls this May compared with May 2008. As noted above, the problem is particularly severe in dairy:

"The increase in calls really started with the change in dairy prices, as they fell last fall," said Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist and farmer who heads the Iowa-based Sowing the Seeds of Hope help line serving farmers in seven Midwestern states. "We're starting to see the stress mount. It's a nationwide problem."
The article goes on to say that rural Americans have less access to health insurance and counseling services than those who live in cities. The LA Times also covered the issue, as California is now the nation's #1 dairy state and two CA dairy farmers have killed themselves in the past six months:

Through much of last year, the average milk price hovered around $17 per 100 pounds -- although consumers purchase milk by the gallon, the industry measures by pounds. The bottom fell out of the market when the economy tanked last fall. Prices now hover around $10, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Farmers generally need at least $16, and often more, per 100 pounds to break even, depending on their debt, feed requirements and other factors.
Unfortunately, the Times does not adequately cover the cause of the dairy crisis, which it attributes to a simple matter of oversupply. I recommend reading the statement by Iowa dairy farmer Francis Thicke for a deeper understanding of factors contributing to the crisis.

American Farmer Suicides | 1 comments
Yet another reason (0.00 / 0)
these giants have to be broken up.
These two industry giants, Dean Foods and DFA, work together and have marketing agreements for purchase of raw milk from farmers (DFA) and processing and wholesaling of dairy products (Dean) all across the U.S.
Another reason we're in the mess we're in now. "Too Big To Fail" got us in the financial mess and these monopolies are devastating our agriculture.

It's long past time for the Justice Department to get their Antitrust units up to full speed.

"Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."
by: Anonymous Bosch @ Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 21:45:39 PM CDT
American Farmer Suicides | 1 comments


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