The Destructive Effects of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles on Farmer Well-Being: Mental Health Consequences Outweigh Economic Losses

Moshe Gish, Aya Shalmon, Ofira Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In many countries, the use of recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) occasionally spills over into agricultural lands. The conflict between ROV users and farmers is escalating due to the growing popularity of ROVs. Determined action of authorities for mitigating the phenomenon may necessitate an understanding of the nature and extent of the actual damage caused by ROVs. However, it is currently unknown how ROVs harm agriculture and what is their main deleterious effect on farmers. We tested our hypothesis that economic costs are the leading reason for farmer distress using in-depth interviews with 46 Israeli farmers that are affected by ROVs. We found that contrary to our hypothesis, economic costs were low and negligible, despite high levels of anger, distress, or hopelessness expressed by almost all farmers. The main reason for outrage and frustration was the emotional impact of ROV activity on the farmers. Therefore, measuring the effects of ROVs on agriculture in terms of economic losses will probably be ineffective in convincing policymakers to act against the reckless use of ROVs in agricultural lands. On the other hand, conveying the emotional implications for the farmers can potentially promote change if accompanied by explanations on the importance of caring for the mental health and well-being of a sector that already suffers from levels of stress and mental health problems that are among the highest of any other industry in the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4117
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • ATVs
  • farm stress
  • farmers’ mental health
  • farmers’ well-being
  • off highway vehicles
  • psychological well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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