Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Legislation Aims to Increase Farmers’ Access to Mental Health Services

News / FBNews June 15, 2020

A recently introduced bill would help boost mental health services in rural areas. The Farm Bureau-backed Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 (S. 3917) would direct the secretary of Health and Human Services in coordination with USDA’s Rural Health Liaison to award grants for home-based telemental health care demonstrations.

Designed to increase mental health services in rural medically underserved populations and for individuals in farming, fishing and forestry occupations, the bill would authorize up to $10 million of funds currently available to the HHS secretary for each of fiscal years 2020 to 2024.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, challenging weather, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have put an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health,” said RJ Karney, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

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