Rep. Tom Emmer is seeking funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. congressman is looking to secure funding to help support mental health in the ag industry.
Republican Tom Emmer, who represents Minnesota’s 6th congressional district, introduced a bill on May 28 designed to provide US$30 million in additional spending for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN).
Republican Representatives Rodney Davis from Illinois’s 13th congressional district and Roger Marshall from Kansas’s 1st congressional district co-sponsored the bill.
The U.S. created the United States Department of Agriculture-run FRSAN, which provides mental health supports to the ag community, in 2008. But the network received no funding and it lapsed.
In 2018, Emmer introduced the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act. The bill revived the FRSAN, which went on to receive US$2 million in funding through the 2018 Farm Bill.
Given the numerous challenges the ag industry is facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers need support now, Emmer said.
“During the pandemic, there has been significant attention on farmers’ balance sheets and financial well-being, and rightly so,” he said in a May 28 statement. “But as farmers euthanize animals, dump milk and see across-the-board commodity price declines, we also need to recognize the growing toll these factors take on farmers’ emotional well-being.”
Farms.com has reached out to industry groups for comment.
If you or someone you know needs mental health support, you can access a list of resources compiled by Farms.com.