The Utah Farm Bureau held its Federation Annual Convention in Layton this past week, gathering farmers and agricultural-based businesses from across the state to talk about top issues facing this encroached upon industry.
As development across Utah furthers, from Utah County to Weber County, land that was previously used for crops and orchards is home to new, rapid expansion of residential neighborhoods for the thousands of people moving to Utah and young families growing in Utah.
But, that's not necessarily the biggest obstacle they're facing. Like many demographics in the state, a huge concern discussed at the convention for farmers and residents in rural communities is depression and suicide.
No industry or area is immune to mental illness; and resources are significantly less available in rural areas, adding to isolation. The pressures of a business passed down through generations can be overwhelming for current and younger generations struggling to compete with international trade bringing in produce from overseas with bottom-level prices.
As a state, we cannot neglect and forget this industry that is still such a prominent part of our economy — not just Silicon Slopes. Weber County has the third highest number of farms in the state, followed by Box Elder County with more than 1,000 each.
To continue this billion-dollar industry our state business and government leaders must realize in their focus on tackling suicide, that our rural areas also need increased access to mental health resources. Perhaps the new Huntsman Mental Health Institute can assist in focusing on how states can provide better services to rural America.