Top Crop West Editorial: September 2019
Let’s talk about it
By Stefanie Croley
Though every year brings challenges, 2019 has been particularly difficult for Canadian crop producers, and the latest news headlines haven’t been so positive.
Little progress has been made regarding the trade dispute between Canada and China, according to the latest update from the Canola Council of Canada, who report a small amount of canola seed sales to China have recently occurred. However, Richardson and Viterra’s licenses to export canola seed to China are still suspended, and Chinese buyers are reluctant to purchase a variety of Canadian agricultural products.
To add insult to injury, the volatile weather that producers experienced during the spring and early summer will likely stick around through harvest. Many regions were desperate for even the smallest amounts of rain through July, while others – like Lac Ste. Anne County in Alberta, which recently declared a state of agriculture disaster due to flooding – were begging for respite from rainfall. Changing market prices as harvest approaches will surely heighten tensions.
These are all topics that are likely to be discussed when chatting with neighbours, family and colleagues, and you’ll surely hear a lot of the same sentiments spoken by your peers. But less likely to come up in conversation are the long-term implications of these challenges on one’s mental health. Just because there’s almost nothing you can do to control weather or trade wars, doesn’t mean those events don’t affect you.
So many of us, even the seemingly “strong” ones, struggle with things each day.
I was browsing Instagram one evening a few weeks ago when I came across a photo that read, “Check on your strong friend.” This simple phrase serves as such an important reminder that the hardest battles are oftentimes fought silently. So many of us, even the seemingly “strong” ones, struggle with things each day. Pain – whether physical or emotional – is relative; meaning what doesn’t hurt you could be crippling for your neighbour. And though it’s easy for some to talk about the devastating effects of a flooded field, others may keep those feelings to themselves for fear of judgment or lack of resources to help them.
That’s why I was thrilled to read that the Do More Agriculture Foundation and Farm Credit Canada are extending their partnership to provide more mental health awareness and training to rural Canada in 2020. Do More Ag, a Canada-wide not-for-profit organization, focuses on bringing awareness to the mental health and wellbeing of Canadian producers. Stress, burnout, emotional exhaustion and depression are high among Canadian producers, according to the foundation, and the continued partnership with Farm Credit Canada means more rural Canadians will receive mental health first aid training through a two-day program developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Programs like this are monumental steps to break the stigma around mental health, but so much work needs to be done. If you’re having a hard time, please reach out to a loved one for help. And conversely, don’t forget to check on those “strong” friends – they just might be in need of some support, too.