“Tillers of the soil are still the most important citizens of the United States,” says Jasmine Jones, echoing the words of Teddy Roosevelt from the early 1900’s. Jasmine, a junior at Winnfield Senior High School, spoke to the Winnfield Rotary Club on September 27, 2023, about the current mental health crisis amongst the American farmers of the small family farm, on whom we rely for much of our food supply in this country.
Jasmine, the daughter of Gregory and Susi Jones, serves as the Treasurer of the WSHS Future Farmers of America. She also serves in the Louisiana FFA as Vice President of Area 2. Jasmine won the Louisiana FFA Prepared Speaking Leadership Development Event last winter, and this November, she will represent both Winnfield and the State of Louisiana at the National FFA Convention, competing against high school FFA students from across the country.
Jasmine noted that the farmer is important to America because one farmer produces enough food each year to feed 170 people. Yet their income continues to decline as it has since the farm crisis of the 1980’s, going down 19% in the last five years. This decline leads to serious depression and anxiety in increasing numbers of farmers as well as increased numbers of suicide within this population at rates higher than that of the general population, at a time when few farmers have access to mental health treatment due to the high cost of health insurance.
The average U.S. citizen gives little thought to how the loss of family farms and individual farmers across the country will affect our food security, or the way in which this may affect the economy, Hopefully, Jasmine’s research on this subject and advocacy for the family farmer will bring some much-needed attention to the topic.
Among comments at the conclusion of her presentation, Rotary members wished Jasmine the best in her competition, sayiing they are confident she will represent Winn and the state well at Nationals.
Jasmine was accompanied to the meeting by her fellow FFA officer Alyssa Van Blaricum, WSHS ag teacher-FFA advisor Ryan Riley and director of the Louisiana FFA, Eric Smith.