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It is a creeping disaster. Slowly, the earth loses its
moisture. Row crops don’t make it to harvest or their yields are reduced.
Livestock have little to no grazing because the forage crops aren’t growing.
Hay feeding begins months earlier than normal and becomes a scarce commodity
and in some areas, water sources are drying up. Cost to feed livestock is
These conditions compound
already low commodity received by row crop farmers and reduced cattle prices.
Farmers across Alabama and the south were facing some of the most challenging
farm financial conditions since the 1980’s before this year’s drought began.
Agriculture-related businesses such as sod farms, nurseries,
landscaping, and yard maintenance depend on seasonal weather and moisture to
keep their businesses operational. In a drought, rainy day maintenance chores don’t get
completed and down time is scarce. As the drought continues, there is less
demand for product or services and sales decrease. Workers may be laid off and
businesses may even have to close their doors.
All of these things take a toll on people’s mental health.
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists several
warning signs for emotional distress related to drought.
Farmers and those in agriculture-related businesses may not
acknowledge that the drought is affecting them or their families. Rural residents
also may have limited access to mental health providers. Nevertheless, there
are actions they can take to reduce their stress.
If you recognize symptoms of emotional distress in family
members or friends, you can help even if you are not a mental health provider.
You can be supportive. The following are helpful things to say to someone who
has experienced disaster.
You may also find these resources helpful for coping with
drought-related stress, whether for yourself or someone else.
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