Bipartisan Lawmakers Address Farmer Suicide Crisis

March 15, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to turn the tide on the unacceptably high rates of suicide among farmers, Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Rick Nolan (D-MN), David Young (R-IA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), John Katko (R-NY), John Faso (R-NY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act (H.R. 5259) to make mental health treatment more available for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. Due to the nature of their work and the lack of mental health treatment available, these individuals suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide. The most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control found rates of suicide among farmers are the highest of any occupation in the United States.

Specifically, the STRESS Act will reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (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 therefore lapsed. The STRESS Act will renew FRSAN, restoring our nation's attention to Americans in farming who are disproportionately affected by high rates of suicide.

“In Arizona, our farmers, ranchers, and agriculture producers grow some of the world’s finest cotton, lettuce, and alfalfa. They are some of the hardest working men and women in the nation, and they wear that badge with pride. We have a responsibility to support the folks who put food on our table and clothes on our back. In addition to improving access to rural health care, we can do this by investing in comprehensive behavioral and mental health services. I am proud to support a bipartisan reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network,” said Rep. O'Halleran.

“Farmers in Minnesota and across America are in the midst of a suicide crisis. Those who work in agriculture face uniquely high-stress challenges ranging from social isolation to strong dependence on factors outside of their control. Combined with the incredible lack of mental health treatment available, our farmers have been left to suffer alone in the shadows without the help and care they need and deserve. Addressing the shortage of services available with the STRESS Act is a good first step to turn the tide on this crisis. I am hopeful this bill will be included in the upcoming Farm Bill to ensure farmers get care before crisis and am grateful to the House Agricultural Committee for their support of this effort thus far,” said Rep. Emmer.

Read the full text of the STRESS Act here.