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AFBF Applauds Bill Addressing Rural Stress

Podcasts / Newsline October 17, 2019

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New legislation in the Senate addresses mental health and stress stemming from the farm economy. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the Seeding Rural Resilience Act that seeks to address rural stress and mental health. Senators Chuck Grassley and Jon Tester introduced the legislation this week. R.J. Karney, AFBF Congressional Relations Director, says the bill expands on similar provisions in the last farm bill.

Karney: This is an act that’s going to build upon the 2018 farm bill which authorized $10 million for the Farmers Stress Assistance Network. The purpose of this act is to help farmers respond to stress and decrease the stigma associated with mental healthcare in rural communities.

Clements: Karney says the legislation would create three initiatives to grow resources and awareness for rural stress.

Karney: First, it’s going to implement a training program for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service employees to provide voluntary stress management when they interact with farmers and ranchers. Secondly, it will create a PSA campaign to raise public awareness and destigmatize mental healthcare in rural communities. And the third initiative will be to establish best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.

Clements: Karney says today’s farmers and ranchers are facing a tremendous amount of stress, warranting the legislation.

Karney: Right now, farmers are facing a detrimental financial crisis, weather issues, trade wars, and also labor shortages. So, we commend Senators Tester and Grassley for introducing the Seeding Rural Resilience Act which will hopefully be instrumental in bringing public awareness to mental health and stress for farmers and ranchers.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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