FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2018
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senators today introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to provide mental health resources in rural America to address the alarmingly high rate of suicide amongst farmers and ranchers.
The bill, Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental Health and Encouraging Rural Solutions for Immediate Response to Stressful Times (FARMERS FIRST), would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and authorize $50 million for the program, which has yet to be funded since being first authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. FRSAN provides grants to extension services and nonprofit organizations that offer stress assistance programs to individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations. FARMERS FIRST is sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and cosponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
National Farmers Union (NFU) president Roger Johnson applauded the Senators on the introduction of the bill:
“Farming and ranching is a highly stressful occupation. As the downturn in the farm economy worsens, many producers are finding themselves in a state of crisis. The FARMERS FIRST Act would provide farmers with support they need to weather these tough times. NFU has long advocated for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, and we applaud the efforts of these Senators to expand the program and set a funding target. We urge Congress to reauthorize FRSAN and provide it with robust funding in the next Farm Bill.”
To download an audio file of Roger Johnson’s quote, visit our website at nfu.org/audio.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.