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10 Signs of a Farmer Suffering Financial Stress

Here are 10 signs a farmer may be suffering from financial stress. Keep reading for five tips for overcoming those emotional and financial challenges.

1.  Isolation or withdrawal

2. Talking in a monotone voice or having a lack of expression

3. Outbursts of anger or abrasive behavior toward children or others

4. Confusion, forgetfulness, or difficulty concentrating

5. Blaming others, such as banks or spouses

6. Binge eating, gambling, spending, or drinking

7. Sleeping too much or not enough

8. Lack of pride in the way the farm buildings and grounds appear

9. Not caring for livestock

10. More farm accidents

5 Ways to Deal with Financial Stress

Financial stress for families in the dairy industry has been especially high this year, with some farms having to make the tough decision to sell the herd. Larry Tranel, Iowa State University Extension dairy specialist, gives a few guidelines to follow if you are feeling stress. He calls them the Good Grief principles.

Reach out. Extended family and community support are often the best medicine. Research shows that people are frequently best helped by friends or family members, even more so than trained counselors – though they may be very important in the process, too.

Drop the guilt. When it is the loss of a dairy herd or farm, knowing this tradition is coming to an end can cause farmers to feel shame and failure. An accident or loss of assets can cause farmers to feel guilt. Males are ingrained to protect and provide for their families and feel at fault even though external market forces (which farmers have no control over) are making it difficult for many others to survive in the same farm climate. Know that you are not alone!

Expect pain. The magnitude and abruptness of the loss determines the amount of shock, denial, anger, and anxiety that may occur and the associated feelings of avoidance, confusion, fear, blame, guilt, and frustration that may surface in response.

Take your time. Loss of hope may cause unhealthy decisions. Hopefully, through the struggle and reaching out in dialogue to others, exploring options and life without, a new acceptance can be attained with a return to a meaningful life – life that’s just different than before.

Don’t expect to get over it quickly. With grief, people often wonder if you’re over it yet. With Good Grief, the goal is NOT to get over it; rather, to savor the memories of what was lost and process your grief to return to a meaningful life in your own time.

Learn More

Iowa Concern: Offers 24-7 free assistance and referral for stress counseling, legal education, and financial concerns. 


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  Provides 24-7 free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 


Dairy Farm Stress Webinar Series:

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