Stress and Dairy Farming: Challenging Times in the Dairy Industry Pave the Way for Mental Health Struggles
Summary- The dairy industry has been struggling with low milk prices, infrastructure problems, trade issues, and isolation for several years. Small family farms have been going out of business faster than any time in recent history and even milk cooperatives that buy milk from the farms have claimed bankruptcy. At the start of 2020, the end of the four-year milk price nightmare was starting to come to an end and producers saw the light at the end of the tunnel to start digging themselves out of. Then COVID-19 hit. This pandemic rocked the system in an unprecedented and unpredicted way. With this comes intense farm stress, despair, and desperation for many. Understanding how the system works – or doesn’t – is important because dairy producers work 24/7/365 to provide our families a safe and nutritious food. The very least we can give them is an attempt to understand and help them when they need it.
Intended audience: Dairy producers, those who work with dairy producers (i.e. nurses, bankers, feed salesmen, etc.), and consumer
Objectives: By the end of this presentation participants will be able to:
1) Explain how milk gets to the store, including the supply chains associated with the producer, processor, retailer, and consumer
2) Identify current and past market and industry stressors for dairy producers
3) Describe the impact of this and other farm stress on a dairy producer’s livelihood and mental health.
Amanda Stone, PhD
Assistant Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Mississippi State University
Amanda Stone is from Greensburg, Pennsylvania and currently lives in Starkville, Mississippi where she is an Assistant Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist at Mississippi State University. She received a B.S. in Animal Sciences and Biology from the University of Findlay in 2009. She then went on to complete her M.S. in 2013 and PhD in 2016 in Animal Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Her current research interests involve mastitis management, precision dairy monitoring technology application for disease detection, and heat stress abatement techniques. Her current Extension efforts focus on farm stress and mental health of dairy farmers along with finding science-based solutions to help dairy producers reach their goals.