WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) led a bipartisan letter that included 39 of his colleagues in support of funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). The Network was reauthorized as part of Congressman Emmer’s Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act, which was signed into law last year. The letter was sent to Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, which has jurisdiction over the funding of FRSAN.
In an effort to turn the tide on the rising rates of suicide among farmers, Congressman Emmer introduced the STRESS Act which would increase access to mental health programs for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. Due to a variety of factors including the nature of their work and the lack of mental health programs available, these individuals suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide.
The STRESS Act reauthorized FRSAN to give states needed resources to provide mental health services for farmers and ranchers. Though the program was first authorized in 2008, it did not receive funding and lapsed. Emmer's renewed FRSAN will restore attention and support to Americans in farming who are disproportionately affected by these troubling factors.
The language of the STRESS Act was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, and passed. However, funding for FRSAN has not yet been provided. Congressman Emmer was joined by 39 of his colleagues to urge full funding for FRSAN in fiscal year 2020.
Upon sending the letter, Congressman Emmer issued the following statement, "This important letter is proof that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognize the growing crisis within our farming communities. Mental health support should be accessible for everyone. I urge my colleagues to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to finally provide our agriculture communities the support they need."
President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Kevin Papp stated: "Minnesota Farm Bureau appreciates Congressman Emmer’s leadership and the support from others in the Minnesota delegation to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) for fiscal year 2020. It is no secret that agriculture is facing incredible financial and emotional challenges. As farmers and ranchers continue to weather this storm, it is critical that we provide much needed resources for them to rely on for their mental health and FRSAN does just that."
President of the National Farmers Union Roger Johnson stated: “Farming and ranching are highly stressful occupations. Unfortunately, many family farmers and ranchers lack access to the mental health support they need in times of extreme duress. FRSAN will help bridge that gap by providing stress assistance programs to farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers. NFU has long advocated for these resources, and we applaud Congressman Emmer’s leadership of the bipartisan coalition working to provide these funds to farming communities.”
President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Chuck Conner stated: “As the farm economy continues to struggle with persistent low prices, stress across rural communities is reaching levels not seen since the crisis of the 1980s. Compounding this are the gaps in mental health services and even access to basic healthcare that continue to challenge many of these communities. Co-ops have a deep and abiding interest in the well-being of their farmer-members and the communities in which they are located and this is why we believe that funding the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network is so important in the appropriations process for the coming year.”
President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation Jim Mulhern stated:"Challenges in the dairy market have created both economic and emotional stress for dairy farmers, and we are pleased that the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, another important way to help farmers in need. We commend Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Antonio Delgado (D-NY) for their bipartisan leadership in securing funding for this initiative in the upcoming appropriations process."
Read the full letter here.