A new study conducted by the University of Georgia highlights a troubling trend of binge drinking among women who either own or manage farms.
It’s no secret that individuals who work in agriculture have elevated stress levels compared to other occupations. Between occupational hazards, financial pressures, weather, workloads, and isolation, stressors are easy to find among farming populations.
Those stressors can have heavy implications for physical and behavioral health.
“Research suggests that women in the agricultural industry are at higher risk for psychological distress,” write the study’s authors. “Female farmers are more likely to take on multiple responsibilities while engaging in farm work including caregiving for family members, household duties, and childcare.”
The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
There are over 1.2 million female farmers in the United States, and the number of female farmers grew by 27 percent from 2012 to 2017. Researchers surveyed 987 U.S. farmers about their perceived stress levels and how they cope. Of the women surveyed, two-thirds were owners or managers.
Participants were asked to report how often they had consumed alcohol in the prior three months and how often they had consumed six or more drinks on one occasion during that time frame.
“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 co-authors Noah Hopkins and Chase Reece broke down the reported stress and drinking behaviors in relation to gender and the level of responsibility the surveyed farmers had.
»Related: Mental health in agriculture: There’s no shame in getting help