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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

For beginning nontraditional farmers, stress is a constant

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023   

Women, LGBTQ, and minority farmers in Ohio face compounding stressors, according to a study from Ohio State University.

Researchers surveyed and interviewed a group of nontraditional, mostly first-generation organic farmers. Results showed 58% of survey respondents reported mild to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Fiona Doherty, doctoral candidate in the College of Social Work at Ohio State University and the study's lead author, said the survey was done in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said many farmers expressed disappointment at the financial reality of farming, including not making ends meet and having to pick up a second or even third job.

"Part of what inspired us to do this particular research study was really acknowledging the generations, the decades of structural discrimination in the U.S. agricultural industry," Doherty explained. "That's led to unequal access to land, unequal access to farm resources."

Some study participants also identified climate change and unpredictable weather as sources of stress.

Doherty pointed out the research is a step toward creating structural support such as policies to improve equity, accessibility, and representation for beginning, women, racial and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ farmers, especially as traditional farmers age out of the field.

"Really thinking about those cumulative impacts and what that does to someone's well-being, to their success as a farmer, as a beginning farmer," Doherty outlined. "That's one main take-away, is just thinking about those cumulative stressors."

According to census data, in 2017, the U.S. had around 321,000 farmers age 35 or younger, accounting for just 9% of the country's roughly 3 million producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said as legacy producers retire, the nation will need a new generation of farmers to grow food and feed.

Disclosure: Ohio State University contributes to our fund for reporting on Arts and Culture, Environment, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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