Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried today sent a letter to Florida’s Congressional delegation members urging their support of a bill in Congress that will address mental healthcare in rural and agricultural communities.
The Seeding Rural Resiliency Act (S.2599/H.R.4820) would address issues of accessibility, availability, and acceptability of mental health care in America’s agriculture communities. The initiative offers farmer-facing employee training programs, creates partnerships to help destigmatize mental healthcare, and determines best practices that address farmer stress and mental health in rural communities.
“From harmful trade wars to a changing environment and economy, farmers across America are facing unique hardships that underlie growing mental health challenges,” stated Commissioner Nikki Fried. “There is a clear and urgent need to bolster mental health services for those in our agricultural and rural communities. I applaud the leadership of U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Chuck Grassley, along with U.S. Representatives Anthony Brindisi, Angie Craig, and John Katko for putting forth bipartisan, bicameral legislation to do just that.”
“Rural America has a crisis on its hands — I see it in my community, and I see it in the small communities across Montana,” Senator Jon Tester said. “Lack of resources, stalled crop prices, isolation, and the stigma against receiving mental health care have caused more and more farmers to take their own lives. This bill is no silver bullet, but it puts us on track towards giving our farmers the resources they need so they can keep doing what they do best — feeding the world.”
Last spring, the American Farm Bureau commissioned a nationwide Morning Consult poll to survey farmer mental health. Its findings showed nearly half of rural adults reporting personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Additionally, two in five rural adults surveyed believe that stress and mental health have become more of a problem in their community. The Seeding Rural Resilience Act has received broad support from a broad coalition of agricultural and mental health organizations, including the National Family Farm Coalition, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.