This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Farmer Mental Health and Rural Stressors




Hudon, Caroline

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology


Agriculture has recently suffered from low commodity prices, natural disasters (e.g. droughts and hurricanes), and supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. These factors influence the physical and mental health of farmers while conducting their operations, which can lead to stress and other negative health effects. The American Farm Bureau conducted a survey in 2019 which found that farm finances and economic factors were the leading drivers affecting farmers’ mental well-being (American Farm Bureau, 2019). Our approach measures the impact of financial stress on mental well-being by focusing on the farm management decisions of farmers. These decisions include navigation of finances, decisions regarding weather, and relations inside and outside of the operation. The impacts of these themes can affect personal health and economic resiliency. This study uses a survey of extension agents and ALFA Fieldmen in Alabama. These two groups regularly interact with farmers and their impressions of what farmers are focusing on in their business provide important insights into farmer mental well-being. The analysis of the survey results is primarily qualitative with a focus on the themes that are most prominent in defining farmer stress. This work has potential to impact the farming community in ways of education and resources for dealing with physical and mental stressors of the farming occupation.