Agri-Mark Takes Steps for Suicide Prevention Among Farmers

Agri-Mark Takes Steps for Suicide Prevention Among Farmers

We may not think of farming as a high-suicide job, but the numbers are higher than you think.

Ad Meskens

When you think of industries where suicides may be significant, my guess is that your first thought isn't farming. A memo sent out recently by Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative based in Methuen, MA, says something quite different.

Milk prices have been spiraling downward over the last few years. The average milk price in 2017 (for the Boston-area market) was $17.44 per hundredweight (cwt), or $0.1744 per pound. Given that a gallon of milk is roughly 8.6 pounds, this means that farmers are making a mere $1.50 for every gallon of milk they produce. The average cost of a gallon of whole milk in 2017 was $3.16, which is a 110% markup (or 52% profit margin) for milk distributors.

As of right now, milk prices sit around the $15 per cwt mark, but the Agri-Mark newsletter predicted that they may be falling even more over the next year, as low at $14.03 per cwt. According to Agri-Mark spokesperson Doug Dimento, that's below the cost of production for most farmers in the Northeast.

Milk prices are set at the national level, but there is a difference in ability between the mass production farms out west and the smaller family farms we see here in the Northeast. Every single farm I grew up around has a long family history behind it (Freund's is three generations, Laurelbrook is four, just to name a few).

Rapidly decreasing milk prices mean that more and more farms are at risk of going out of business, and unfortunately quite a few people would rather give up their life than their livelihood. While we may not think of farming as a high-suicide occupation, it is heartening to see that Agri-Mark is making an effort for the health of their members. Not only have they spread the numbers of local suicide hotlines, but they are also working on a dedicated mental health service for their members. In the meantime, go out and support your local farmers!

Report this Content

More on Odyssey

Facebook Comments