Emmer leads effort to reauthorize Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) continued a bipartisan effort to provide more mental health resources for rural Americans by advocating for reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) in the current Farm Bill.

“Americans living in rural areas and those working in the ag industry are facing acute mental health challenges and urgently need support,” Rep. Emmer said in a July 5 statement. “We are proud to continue our years-long effort to provide resources for rural and mental health care.”

Rep. Emmer recently led 10 of his colleagues — including U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Kim Schrier (D-WA) — in urging U.S. House Agriculture Committee leaders to give FRSAN thorough consideration and full support in its reauthorization as the House Agriculture Committee holds hearings and crafts the upcoming Farm Bill. 

“As we’ve all seen, there is no shortage of stress-inducing factors ailing farm country,” wrote the lawmakers in a June 9 letter sent to Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA). 

“From uncertain global markets to recent adverse weather conditions and isolation, numerous factors are contributing to a decline in ranchers and farmers’ emotional well-being that requires action,” according to their letter.

The FRSAN, they wrote, provides critical behavioral health programs in farm country that all too often suffers a severe shortage of mental health resources.

Rep. Emmer and his colleagues pointed out that after receiving full funding of $10 million each year for the last four years, the FRSAN should be fully reauthorized to support the nearly seven million people in rural areas where mental health disorders are prevalent, according to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

For farmers, suicide rates are now three and a half times higher than that of the general population, they wrote.

Numerous organizations support reauthorization of the FRSAN, including the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Farm Bureau, the Federation American Psychological Association, the Farm Credit Council, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Rural Health Association, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association, among many others.