Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – The depopulation of herds and flocks on Canadian farms is becoming an increasingly concerning issue, with disease playing a significant role in the decline. Not only does that affect consumers, but it also has a massive effect on farmers and their mental health.
The depopulation of herds and flocks on Canadian farms is becoming an increasingly concerning issue, with disease playing a significant role in the decline. Not only does that affect consumers, but it also has a massive effect on farmers and their mental health.
Disease outbreaks can devastate farms quickly. The close proximity of animals in modern farming practices means disease can spread quickly and easily, with devastating consequences. The recent avian flu outbreak in North America was one of the worst ever, with Alberta being one of the hardest-hit provinces.
AgKnow, a farm-focused initiative providing farmers with essential resources to support their mental health, is conducting a study on farm animal epidemics and depopulation and is looking for input from those who have been through it.
Lind Hunt, program director with AgKnow, says depopulation is having an overwhelming impact on farmers and producers.
“Chronic wasting disease, avian influenza, and a myriad of other ones that are more provincially focused or regulated at the provincial level, we have a lot of depopulation happening right now and when we dived into that a little deeper, it’s having a profound impact on the mental health and state of the farmers going through that,” she says.
Hunt is encouraging farmers that have been through an animal epidemic to reach out through the AgKnow website so they can help others going through it.
“They can go on our website and register for a survey. Someone from the research team phones them, it’s all anonymous and it’s a one-on-one conversation where they can give recommendations. I’ve been through this, I suffered, here’s what I recommend so we can make it a better system going forward.”
AgKnow is conducting a number of agricultural research studies and is inviting farmers, producers, and anyone with lived experience to participate. You can find out more at the AgKnow website.