A bipartisan group of House members have introduced legislation to reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. The program was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide farmers with stress assistance programs, however it was not funded and was allowed to cease.
The STRESS Act, as it is known, was introduced by Reps. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Tom O’Halleran, R-Ariz., Rick Nolan, D-Minn., David Young, R-Iowa, Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., John Katko, R-N.Y., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.
“I am hopeful the STRESS Act will be included in the upcoming Farm Bill to ensure farmers get care before crisis and am grateful to the House Agricultural Committee for their support of this effort thus far,” said Emmer, an author of the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act (H.R. 5259).
National Farmers Union praised the introduction and urged passage with “robust funding in the next Farm Bill.”
“Farming and ranching is a highly stressful occupation,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As the downturn in the farm economy worsens, many producers are finding themselves in a state of financial crisis. Unfortunately, many family farmers and ranchers lack access to the support they need in times of extreme duress.”
“Those who work in agriculture face uniquely high-stress challenges ranging from social isolation to strong dependence on factors outside of their control,” Emmer said. “Combined with the incredible lack of mental health treatment available, our farmers have been left to suffer alone in the shadows without the help and care they need and deserve. Addressing the shortage of services available with the STRESS Act is a good first step to turn the tide on this crisis.”
Farmers have the highest suicide rate of any occupation in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The STRESS Act will give states needed resources to provide mental health services for farmers and ranchers.
Source: NFU, Office of Rep. Tom Emmer