Sustaining the Farmer to Sustain the Farm: Stress Management Education for Farmer Resilience and Wellbeing

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,681.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: University of Georgia; Georgia Organics; Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association; The Dairy Alliance; Georgia Farm Service Agency; Fort Valley State University; Clarke Atlanta University
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Anna Scheyett, PhD
University of Georgia
Dr. Abigail Borron
University of Georgia
Dr. Timothy Coolong
University of Georgia


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

Agricultural sustainability is impossible without sustaining
farmers. Farmers experience high stress levels and have among the
highest suicide rates of any occupation. Beginning farmers report
particularly high levels of emotional distress—a recent Georgia
survey showed 9% of first-generation farmers reported suicidal
ideation daily.

The purpose of this project is to strengthen the resilience and
emotional wellbeing of farmers by providing education on causal
factors for stress and stress management skills, so as to
position farmers and their future generations for long-term
success and stability. Our overarching project message is that
without a healthy farmer the farm is not sustainable, to take
care of family and farm requires caring for yourself, and while
you cannot control many stressors in farming, you can
control how stress affects your physical and emotional health.

The project will teach skills needed to combat the physical,
cognitive, and emotional impacts of stress on farmers. It will
address SARE’s pillars of sustainability by providing farmers
with skills they need to manage stress, improve their physical
and emotional health, and thus improve their quality of
. Resilience against stress and strong physical and
emotional health will in turn promote excellent decision-making
to ensure farmers learn new skills needed for sustainable farming
and make the most efficient use of nonrenewable
. All of this will maximize economic
of the farm.

Our project objectives are to create an inventory of needed
content and delivery methods for farmer stress management
training as identified by partners and farmers; develop
relevant training materials on farmer stress management,
including tailored content for underrepresented groups
build capacity in stress management skills in farmers through
training and resource dissemination; and engage in
ongoing evaluation to assess impact and modify content
as needed

Our curriculum topics will include: What is stress?  Why is
stress important to talk about? Physical/cognitive/emotional
effects of stress; Effective stress management skills; Building a
network and supporting fellow farmers; Available resources; and
Unique stressors faced by underrepresented farmers, and resources
available to support them. We will intentionally support a range
of underserved farmers by developing content addressing the
unique stressors experienced women, Black farmers, and farmers
with disabilities, and target this content to trainings and sites
where underserved groups are present. 

Research indicates farmers value independence and stoicism and
only discuss stress with trusted others.  Farmers’ time is
precious, and willingness to attend non-essential programming is
low; training farmers in stress management cannot be stand-alone
programming. We will therefore infuse this content throughout
presentations within existing trusted trainings and programs such
as Extension Journeyman/Beginning Farmer and other agricultural
programs, UGA agricultural and sustainability courses, FVSU
classes and Extension programming, commodity conferences, and FSA

We will evaluate our developed materials through pilot testing,
and engage in both process and outcome evaluations of the impact
of our trainings and material dissemination. Through our work we
will improve the stress management skills of farmers, and promote
their ongoing emotional and physical health. By sustaining
farmers, we will support sustainable agricultural systems
throughout Georgia.

Project objectives from proposal:

This project will build resiliency and stress management skills
in farmers to ensure their long-term sustainability and that of
their farms.

Project Objectives:

  1. Create an inventory of needed content and delivery methods
    for farmer stress management training
    as identified by
    partners and farmers
    , including content needed to address
    unique needs of underrepresented farmers;
  2. Develop relevant, meaningful training materials and
    resources on farmer stress
    management, including
    tailored content for underrepresented groups, grounded in
    needs and preferences identified in #1 above;
  3. Build capacity in stress management skills in farmers in
    through training and resource dissemination, with
    a focus on beginning and underrepresented farmers and
    farmers evolving to more sustainable practices;
  4. Engage in ongoing evaluation to assess impact
    and modify content as needed.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.