What causes stress in Nevada farmers and ranchers?

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 3:50 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Karl Baker says he’s been ranching and farming since he was nine years old. He grows hay for livestock and takes care of beef cattle. He’s been doing it for decades so he obviously he enjoys the work.

But not all the time.

“The downside is time,” says Baker. “You just don’t have enough time to do all the things you need to get done. And sometimes you get behind, it can be depressing.”

A UNR survey of Nevada ranchers and farmers shows more than 75% of respondents list lack of time as a source of stress.

It falls below Production Costs which is the number one stressor, legislative issues, workload, family, and livestock health issues. There are plenty of other stress causing issues for Nevada farmers and ranchers including financial worries, drought, and commodity prices.

These results come from a larger survey done throughout the west in 13 states. Called, “Agricultural Producer Stress: A Nevada Statewide Study” the project here in the Silver State was conducted by UNR’s School of Agriculture Extension.

Lindsay Chichester specializes in agriculture systems and authored the study results.

“In Nevada this data has not existed before,” says Chichester, who works in the School of Agriculture Extension Services. “We don’t have any baseline data for agriculture; producers and stress resiliency mental health anything like that. We only had 69 responses. We found out they are stressed and there is depression there. A lot of the things they just can’t control are what lead to those causes of stress.”

The data shows depression among this limited group with 27.1% reporting moderate to severe depression. That’s higher than the national average.

Yet, that same research shows low interest in accessing information to deal with stress and depression.

“You have to remember ranchers are a tough bunch and they don’t ever look for help,” says Baker with a possible explanation.

However, those surveyed did say they would be interested in accessing support professionally or personally through social media, on-line classes, or webinars.

Researchers are quick to point out because of the size of their survey, those ranchers and farmers who responded don’t represent the population as a whole. And large conclusions cannot be made from the data.