Lawmakers in the House this week introduced legislation to provide farmers with stress assistance programs. The Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide, or STRESS Act, seeks to make mental health treatment more available for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. The legislation was introduced by Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer, along with lawmakers from Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, and other states, in response to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control which found rates of suicide among farmers are the highest of any occupation in the United States.
Congressman Emmer says farmers are “in the midst of a suicide crisis.” The bill would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, a program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide farmers with stress assistance programs, but has not been funded since being authorized. The National Farmers Union applauded the legislation, saying the bill would provide farmers and ranchers, and their families, access to support they need during extreme times of stress, such as the current farm economy downturn.