U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra has recently introduced a bill that aims to provide more support for farmers’ mental health. The Farmers First Act would increase federal investment in the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to $15 million a year for five years, allowing the program’s regional centers to establish referral connections with certified community behavioral health clinics, critical access hospitals and rural health centers.
Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, emphasized the importance of expanding behavioral health resources for rural communities and connecting farmers with medical professionals who can provide the care they deserve. He highlighted the challenges that farmers face, including loneliness and stress brought on by economic downturns, natural disasters, and animal disease outbreaks.
The legislation has garnered bipartisan support, with Representatives Mike Bost, Jim Costa, Angie Craig, and Zach Nunn co-sponsoring the bill. Additionally, a group of 27 agricultural and mental health organizations have declared their support for the bill.
If passed, this measure would provide critical support for the mental health and wellbeing of farmers across the country. It awaits action by committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.