Jan 27, 2023
Farm work-parenting study invites growers

A first-time study plans to examine how growers run their farms and raise their children.

To better understand farm and ranch families’ realities in balancing children and work, researchers at the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC) and Ohio State University (OSU) are asking farmers to share their experiences.

National Farm Medicine Center NFMC logoThe national survey comes because farm and ranch parents know how challenging it can be to balance children and work, especially when childcare options (paid or unpaid) are limited, according to a news release. The challenges can produce consequences for the farm business, the children’s safety and the family’s overall well-being, according to the release.

The survey asks farmers not only about their childcare and schooling arrangements, but also about how their decisions are connected to farm safety, the economic viability of their farm business and their household finances.

“This is the first nationwide comprehensive survey focused on the realities of farmers and ranchers raising children,” Shoshanah Inwood, an OSU associate professor, said in the release. “Over the years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested significant resources to recruit and retain the next generation of farmers. Yet, these programs and resources rarely consider or take into account the childcare needs of farm and ranch families, despite evidence of childcare challenges dating back to the 1980s.”

National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and SafetyThe survey is especially timely because 2023 is a Farm Bill year. Some farm organizations and policymakers are debating if affordable child care in rural areas should become a priority, Florence Becot, an NFMC associate research scientist, said in the release.

“We recognize that farmers often feel over-surveyed and have limited time and energy this time of year,” Becot, who is an affiliate of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, said in the release. “However, we also know that decisions are being made by local, state and national policymakers without a good grounding in the realities faced by actual farm families.”

The survey is designed to provide important information about what solutions could look like. The results of the survey will be available later in the year and will be shared with farmers, farm organizations, state agencies and policy makers, according to the release.

As one Ohio farm parent told Becot and Inwood during a focus group last year: “If America wants farmers, we need help with child care,” according to the release.

Farm and ranch families can participate in the survey here.
They can also request a paper survey by contacting Becot at [email protected] or by calling 715-389-9379.

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