New Utah Agriculture Commissioner Wants To Raise Awareness Of Farmer Suicide
There’s a certain connection to the past many of us feel when visiting a farm.
“People love to see the people who produce their food and they love to see it actually happen,” said Kerry Gibson, who is a 5th generation dairy farmer. “You can tell someone how their food is produced, and they just don’t understand it until they see it with their own eyes.”
Raising awareness of where food really comes from is something Kerry Gibson is working on.
Besides being a dairy farmer, he’s also the new Commissioner of Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food.
He knows there’s a disconnect for many people and farming.
It’s just a sign of the times we live in.
“One of the real challenges that we face in agriculture is that we’re all now a few generations removed from the farm, for so many of us. Only about 1% of Utah’s population is actively involved in food and fiber production,” said Gibson. “It’s easy to walk into the grocery store and pull that product off of that shelf and not think about how it got there in the first place.”
Raising food production awareness is one thing, but the issue he’d really like to fix is one that doesn’t get talked about very often in farming.
“Suicide is at an all-time high in our agricultural community because of some of these challenges that our farmers and ranchers face,” said Gibson.
With so many things out of farmers control like weather, the economy, and labor, and pricing, it’s never been an easy career.
These days, with society maybe not appreciating what farmers do, it’s getting tougher.
“They are somewhat forgotten. We are so removed from this stuff, we just, we take it for granted,” said Gibson.
Gibson lost a good friend, a good farmer, to suicide because of these types of challenges.
“It was more than he could handle, and so as I look at his family and the challenges they’ve been through, it makes me want to reach out to others who might be feeling the same way,” he said.
That’s why, as commissioner, he wants to raise awareness of farmer suicide.
He says we can all help by thanking a farmer for what they do, buying local, and truly appreciating where our most basic necessity comes from.
“When you open your wallet and buy a locally produced food product that was produced by your neighbor, it has a far-reaching effect throughout our community,” said Gibson. “Farming is a wonderful place to raise a family, but it’s also a difficult industry. They always keep a smile on their face, and they love what they do, but sometimes the pressure can be real.”