SEEDS OF DESPAIR: Isolated, and with limited access to mental-health care, hundreds are dying by suicide.

American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product.

Yet they now are saddled with near-record debt, declaring bankruptcy at rising rates and selling off their farms amid an uncertain future clouded by climate change and whipsawed by tariffs and bailouts.

For some, the burden is too much to bear.

Seeking a Cure: Mental health access scarce in rural, farming communities

With farmers facing increasing stress and depression, Midwestern states and national farm groups are making more efforts to better provide services to alleviate the high rate of suicide among the agriculture industry.

Yet in rural areas, this care is more of a challenge.

Relocating USDA agencies delayed millions in grants. One was for a suicide prevention network for farmers.

Sky Chadde is the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. He can be reached at

This story is embargoed for republication until Feb 22, 2020. The Trump administration’s decision to relocate two US Department of Agriculture agencies delayed millions in grant funding. One stalled project was a suicide prevention network for farmers. Last year, the USDA announced the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture or NIFA, which funds the network, would relocate to Kansas City.