It came without warning. Prairie farmers were dealt the environmental version of poker’s 7-2 off-suit: drought conditions not seen in 20-plus years and a heat dome, which may become agriculture’s word of the year for all the wrong reasons.
Widely dubbed the harvest from hell, the difficult 2019/20 crop year has complicated the lives of Alberta farmers. While hard times weigh heavily, they have produced a growing awareness of mental health issues within agriculture. Producer groups advocate for awareness as farmers and rural communities have opened up, actively embracing the once largely taboo subject. Where individuals were expected to cope on their own with issues such as anxiety and depression, this is no longer so.