‘Pride doesn’t pay the bills’: Farmer shares story of attempted suicide, why it’s a growing problem

‘Pride doesn’t pay the bills’: Farmer shares story of attempted suicide, why it’s a growing problem

To an outsider, things might seem like a breeze in the field of farming, but what we might not see from the outside is that farmers are at the mercy of elements that are often out of their control.

Jeff knows this story all too well.

“Thought it would be easier not to be here,” says farmer Jeff Ditzenberger.

He’s a survivor of an attempted suicide.

“It’s really hard to explain. There’s still parts of that night that I don’t 100 percent remember,” he said.

He found a light that not everyone can see.

“You’ve got to find those little things that make your job that much more enjoyable and there’s a huge sense of pride that goes along with it. And I’m feeding 50-something people a day, so to me that’s pretty important and I kind of would like to keep doing that for as long as I can,” he said.

The physical labor of farming goes hand in hand with the emotional labor, and Jeff is only one example speaking for dozens of others.

“Farmers have had this thing where people look at them like we’re a proud folk, and we are. We do everything to the best of our ability with as much pride in what we do as we can, but pride doesn’t pay the bills,” he said.

It’s a plight farmers are facing across the nation. Imagine trying to live off a dwindling income where the price to sell your goods is less than the cost to produce them.

“That’s a real struggle when you’ve got bills to pay and you’re not bringing in nearly the income of what the expenses are. And it’s the fluctuation on top of that. Milk price never stays the same. Corn price never stays the same. All the commodities get traded and those prices change all the time,” he adds.

It’s this uncertainty that grazes a staggering number of farmers like Jeff down a dead-end road.

“The farming community is dwindling little by little by little. People are getting out of the industry because of the poor prices and stuff,” he said.

It’s a fragile economy and the accumulating stress of feeding the country yet struggling to make ends meet for themselves is what drives them to their breaking point.

“For each farmer that quits, people say well the family just lost their job, but it’s not just that. It’s the feed salesperson, it’s the fertilizer person, it’s the crop agronomist. There’s so many people that lost a customer and they lose part of their livelihood too and now that’s money that’s not being put back into the community so on a local basis, there’s a huge effect. On a global basis, I don’t think they feel the effects yet, but I don’t know that I want to go down that road where we do feel it on a global basis either,” he said.

For more background on Jeff’s story, follow this link.