Washington, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) announced their commitment to invest nearly $25 million dollars for 50 grants to support the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN).
Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) issued the following statement in response:
“When we reauthorized the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, we ensured that farm families and rural Americans would have access to mental health resources. However, the work doesn’t end there, and our farmers have experienced increased stress due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and a difficult harvest season because of the drought. Now more than ever, an increased investment in these resources is essential. The agriculture community faces incredible financial and emotional challenges through their work, but they should never suffer in silence without access to the care they need."
Due to the nature of their work and the lack of mental health resources available in rural areas, individuals who work in agriculture suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) was first created in 2008, but it did not receive any funding and therefore lapsed.
Congressman Emmer introduced the STRESS Act in 2018, which renewed FRSAN and brought attention to Americans in rural areas who lack access to mental health care. The STRESS Act language was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, and the program was reauthorized. Since then, Emmer has led the way to provide needed funding for this program to carry out its mission in each appropriations cycle.
Due to the USDA’s investment, a grant of $500,000 will be issued to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Bend, Don’t Break project which aims to connect farmers and rural Minnesotans with resources to help reduce stress, anxiety, and crisis situations. The program supports mental health counseling, farm advocates, marriage retreats, and a 24/7 Farm & Rural Helpline.