Male farmers can view seeking help as an ‘admission of failure’ and a betrayal of a masculine image of themselves, with a new study indicating many feel the need to "put their bodies on the line" as part of their work.
The research, called “That’s Me I am the Farmer of the Land”: Exploring Identities, Masculinities, and Health Among Male Farmers’ in Ireland’ and published in the, involved input from 11 focus groups of male and female farmers conducted from November 2019 to March last year.
A number of themes emerged, including the changing nature of farming from a traditional focus on food production to a more administrative role revolving around farm inspections, changes to farm subsidy payments, and scheme paperwork.
Rural isolation was another recurring theme, as was the idea of 'farming masculkinities' - "this sense of obligation to put their bodies on the line [that] came with the resignation of a cost to their health and to their bodies over time".
One farmer in his 30s said: "I think it’s a pride thing, there are tough men out there in all weathers working hard and have the signs of hard work all over us."
However, that also meant for some ignoring health concerns or even being afraid to attend a doctor for fear over what might be detected.
A farmer in his 20s said:
Lead author and Teagasc Walsh Scholar Conor Hammersley, said: “Many farmers view seeking help as an ‘admission of failure’ and a betrayal of a masculine image of themselves as men and farmers. They tend to prioritise farm work and the health of their animals over their own health and safety.”