Washington, D.C. – Recently, Representative Tom Emmer (MN-06) led a bipartisan letter along with 28 of his colleagues in support of continued funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). The program was reauthorized as part of Congressman Emmer’s Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act, which was signed into law in the 2018 Farm Bill.
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.
“May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and our agriculture community needs our attention now more than ever. Prior to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers and ranchers were already struggling with a lack of access to mental health care and increased stress from the difficulty of their work,” said Emmer.
“However, over the past year, farm communities were faced with new crises, compounding their mental health challenges. Some farmers were forced to euthanize animals, dump milk, and watch as commodity prices declined across the board. These factors take a toll on our farmers’ emotional well-being," Emmer continued.
Emmer concluded, “This additional funding will continue offering increased mental health care services to rural America, and will begin to address the needs of our farmers, to ensure they have the access to the health 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.
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.
Read the letter to committee appropriators here.