WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer is sponsoring legislation to expand access to mental health services for farmers.
“Farmers in Minnesota and across America are in the midst of a suicide crisis,” Emmer, a Republican, said in a statement. “Those who work in agriculture face uniquely high-stress challenges ranging from social isolation to strong dependence on factors outside of their control.”
His proposal is called the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act.
The legislation would reauthorize the lapsed Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) to provide states with mental health resources. Emmer wants the STRESS Act to be included in the 2018 farm bill and is seeking support from the House Agriculture Committee. Cosponsors include U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat.
Emmer pointed to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that farmers have the highest suicide rate of any occupation in the nation.
“Our farmers have been left to suffer alone in the shadows without the help and care they need and deserve,” said Emmer. “Addressing the shortage of services available … is a good first step to turn the tide on this crisis.”