Richard Oswald, still mourning the loss of his family’s homestead to flooding along the Missouri River, is planting corn and soybeans into ground that last year was feet deep underwater.
It’s probably good, he said, to not have too much time to think.
“Diversion therapy is the best treatment for farmers right now,” said the 70-year-old from Atchison County, Missouri. “Being busy helps.”
In an industry rocked over the past year by record rates of bankruptcies, suicides and mental health crises spurred by weather extremes, trade wars and faltering economics, COVID-19 has fostered even more uncertainty for the future of America’s farms. Already the pandemic has decimated agricultural markets.
For the men and women struggling to operate farms and associated businesses across the country, concerns are rising that the existing mental health crisis in farm country is about to get worse.
“If you look back over the last 20 or