Fri, 04 May 2018
FARMERS FIRST bill legislation would reauthorise and strengthen Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators today introduced legislation in the US 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 reauthorise the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and authorise $50 million for the programme, which has yet to be funded since being first authorised in the 2008 Farm Bill.
FRSAN provides grants to extension services and non-profit organisations that offer stress assistance programmes to individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations. FARMERS FIRST is sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and cosponsored by Senators 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 programme and set a funding target. We urge Congress to reauthorise FRSAN and provide it with robust funding in the next Farm Bill.”
As reported by NFU (US)