BDN speaks with Forstadt for article about stress, farming

The Bangor Daily News spoke with Leslie Forstadt, a human development specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, for the article “What are the causes of stress among farmers?” which was the first in a two-part series. People in many occupations can experience family stress, but farming careers are especially interwoven with family life. And planning succession and inheritance of farmland can strain family relationships, the article states. “Certainly in New England, we’re looking at trying to transition a large number of farms to successors,” said Forstadt. “Whether those successors are family members or not that can cause internal stress within a family.” The culture around farming also contributes to a lack of communication about stress, according to the article. “Traditionally, farmers are known as stoic and able to solve their own problems,” Forstadt said. “The agrarian imperative is [the] notion that folks that are super capable and adept at solving problems on the farm feel pressure that they should be able to solve their own problems when it comes to mental health or inter-family conflict.” This theory does not separate individual responsibility from systemic forces, however. “There really are systemic forces against succeeding in farming,” Forstadt said. “As good as you are at what you do, if the system is not supporting you to live, that’s not your fault. And yet … the message is, you should be able to do this if you just work hard enough.” The BDN also spoke with Forstadt for the second article in the series.