Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Women farm owners more apt to binge drink

Athens, Ga. – A study from the University of Georgia reveals a concerning pattern of binge drinking among women who own or manage farms. 

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, surveyed 987 farmers across the U.S. about their perceived levels of stress and coping behaviors, including alcohol use.


Farmers experience higher levels of work-related stress compared to other industries and the public, and recent studies have found that many turn to alcohol to handle that stress. But not all farmers used alcohol in the same way.


“Female farmers were less likely to report drinking, but then we had these points in the data that we weren’t expecting where there was something going on with binge drinking within our female farmers,” said lead author Christina Proctor, a clinical assistant professor at UGA’s College of Public Health.


Proctor and her co-authors dug into existing research on stress and females who work in male-dominated fields and found that women tend to experience added stress that could affect alcohol use. 


For example, said Proctor, women in male-dominated industries like firefighting and commercial fishing reported being held to a higher performance standard and having their authority routinely questioned. And outside of work, these women still bore the brunt of responsibility of housework and as caregivers.


“We thought maybe this is what's going on with our data,” said Proctor. “Maybe there's questioning authority. Somebody comes into your farm, and they ask where the boss man is. You own the farm, but people don't see you as that owner.”


So, they broke down reported stress and drinking behaviors in relationship to gender and the level of responsibility the farmers held. 


Compared to their male counterparts, they found that female farmers reported significantly higher levels of stress. And, while female participants were less likely to drink overall, when they did drink, they were more likely to binge drink. This pattern was most pronounced among female farmers who owned or managed farms.


“I think there are moments where the stress associated with farm work and these extra duties are just too hard to handle, where you have to cope with it in some way, and there's just this explosiveness when they do drink,” said Proctor.


This study is part of a larger effort Proctor is leading to understand farmer stress and deliver interventions that help farmers deal with stress in healthy ways. Understanding the range of coping mechanisms farmers are using, and how those may look different across genders and farm roles, is critical to forming tailored mental health and well-being programs. 


Proctor is currently interviewing female farmers to better understand the factors that trigger binge drinking.


Two-thirds of female farmers surveyed were farm owners or farm managers, and more women are entering the industry every year.


“We have to figure out a way to support our female farmers, because they are a part of the future,” said Proctor. 


Co-authors include Noah Hopkins and Chase Reece with UGA’s College of Public Health.


The paper, “The Intersection of Gender and Occupational Roles in Agriculture: Stress, Resilience, and Alcohol Behaviors of US Farmers,” is available online.



Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Penn State offers home-study goat course

 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Meat-goat producers looking for information on how to make their livestock enterprise more profitable can take advantage of a home-study course offered by Penn State Extension this winter.

The course, which begins Feb. 7, will cover profit-enhancing production principles for raising meat goats. Lessons are available through email and the internet or through conventional mail delivery. The course contains six weekly lessons.

Lesson topics include production basics, nutrition, health, reproduction, marketing and financial issues. Each lesson offers information about the topic and a worksheet for producers to complete and email or mail back to Penn State Extension educators for comments. Producers also can submit questions they would like to have answered.

An additional feature is the option to join three Zoom meetings to review course materials and worksheet questions and answers. Participants can access Zoom meetings by computer or phone.

“This course is a great way for producers to learn new information without having to rearrange their schedules to accommodate a meeting,” said Melanie Barkley, senior livestock extension educator based in Bedford County, who is coordinating the course. “Producers can study the lessons at their leisure in their own home. The courses are designed for beginning producers and for established producers who wish to improve production and management skills.”

Worksheet questions are designed to help producers analyze their current operations. Course instructors include Barkley, Dulcie Christman, extension educator based in Greene County, and Chelsea Hill, extension educator based in Wayne County. Educators will address comments to participants’ individual situations to better help them improve their management skills.

“Producers’ past comments following completion of the course show that information offered in the course was very beneficial for them,” Barkley said. “Producers are able to adapt the information for use in their own operations.”

For more details or to sign up for a course, visit or call 877-345-0691.

To speak to one of the instructors, contact the Penn State Extension office in Bedford County at 814-623-4800, in Greene County at 724-892-8026, or in Wayne County at 570-253-5970, ext. 4110.


Friday, January 12, 2024

USDA to Reopen Signup for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2024 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (Continuous CRP) signup on Jan. 12, 2024. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages agricultural producers and landowners interested in conservation opportunities for their land in exchange for yearly rental payments to consider the enrollment options available through Continuous CRP, which also includes the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) offered by FSA partners. Additionally, producers participating in CRP can apply to re-enroll beginning Jan. 12, 2024 if their contracts will expire this year.

“We are pleased to announce we are now accepting Continuous CRP offers,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Continuous CRP is one of the best conservation tools we can provide producers and landowners. Whether a producer wants to focus on water quality benefits or work with one of our partners to address a natural resource concern in their area, the program offers many options to help you meet your resource conservation goals.”

On Nov. 16, 2023, President Biden signed into law H.R. 6363, the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024 (Pub. L. 118-22), which extended the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-334), more commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, through Sept. 30, 2024. This extension allows authorized programs, including CRP, to continue operating.

To submit an offer, producers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center by July 31, 2024, in order to have an offer effective by Oct. 1, 2024. To ensure enrollment acreages do not exceed the statutory cap, FSA will accept offers from producers on a first-come, first-served basis and will return offers for approval in batches throughout the year.

Additionally, producers with acres enrolled in Continuous CRP set to expire Sept. 30, 2024, can offer acres for re-enrollment beginning Jan.12, 2024. A producer can both enroll new acres into Continuous CRP and re-enroll any acres expiring Sept.30, 2024.

FSA water quality practices, such as riparian buffers, prairie strips, grassed waterways, and wetlands, will receive an additional 20% incentive. Buffer practices have a positive impact on water quality. Additionally, the Climate-Smart Practice Incentive launched in 2021 is also available in the Continuous signup.   

There are several enrollment options within Continuous CRP, including: CREP: Working with conservation partners, CREP leverages federal and non-federal funds to target specific state, regional, tribal, or nationally significant conservation concerns.
State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE): The initiative restores vital habitat in order to meet high-priority state wildlife conservation goals.
Highly Erodible Lands Initiative (HELI): Producers and landowners can enroll in CRP to establish long-term cover on highly erodible cropland that has a weighted erodibility index (EI) greater than or equal to 20.
Farmable Wetlands Program: Producers and landowners can enroll land in CRP to restore previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffers, improving both vegetation and water flow.   
Clean Lake Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR) Initiative and CLEAR30: This initiative prioritizes and offers additional incentives for water quality practices on the land that, if enrolled, will help reduce sediment loadings, nutrient loadings and harmful algal blooms. Through CLEAR30, a component of this initiative, these additional incentives for adoption of water quality practices can be accessed in 30-year contracts.

More Information 

The water quality practice incentive builds on other improvements to Continuous CRP that were made in 2021, including expanding CLEAR30 from two pilot areas to nationwide availability and repositioning SAFE within Continuous CRP to give producers and landowners more opportunities to participate. Additionally, FSA has improved CREP by creating flexibilities within CREP for partners to provide matching funds in the form of cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance, adding staff to work directly with partners, and expanding opportunities for Tribal Nations to participate, beginning with three Tribal Nations in the Great Plains, the Cheyenne River, Oglala, and Rosebud Sioux Tribes, for the first time ever, to help conserve, maintain, and improve grassland productivity while reducing soil erosion and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits.     

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit 

USDA Helps Producers Prepare for and Recover from Severe Winter Weather


Winter storms create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers, especially for those raising livestock, row crops and vulnerable crops like citrus. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. As you prepare for the potential impacts of upcoming winter weather, know that USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management

For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Disaster Assistance

USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which are especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers.

First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event– like these winter storms – or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. To participate in LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss by the annual program payment application date. The LIP payment application and notice of loss deadline is Feb. 29, 2024, for the 2023 program year and March 3, 2025, for 2024 program year losses. For ELAP, producers are required to complete and a notice of loss to their local FSA office no later than the annual program application deadline of January 30 following the program year in which the loss occurred. 

Next, the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate and replant tree, vines or shrubs loss experienced by orchards and nurseries. This complements NAP or crop insurance coverage, which covers the crop but not the plants or trees in all cases.

For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days of the disaster event or the date when the loss of the trees, bushes, or vines is apparent.


It’s critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to and after the loss.

Other common documentation options include:

  • Purchase records
  • Production records
  • Vaccination records
  • Bank or other loan documents
  • Third-party certification 

Other Programs

The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore fencing, damaged farmland or forests, and remove snow from feed stocks, water supplies, and feeding areas. 

Additionally, FSA offers a variety of loans available including emergency loans that are triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs.  You can use these loans to replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, or refinance farm-related debts, and other needs. Additionally, FSA offers several loan servicing options available for borrowers who are unable to make scheduled payments on their farm loan programs debt to the agency because of reasons beyond their control.

Meanwhile, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.

Additional Resources

Additional details – including payment calculations – can be found on our NAPELAPLIP, and TAP fact sheets. On, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help.  To inquire about available programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.