Federal resources provided under a bipartisan bill introduced last year by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and included in the 2018 Farm Bill are making their way to Iowa farmers and ranchers.
Sen. Ernst’s Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental Health and Encouraging Rural Solutions For Immediate Response to Stressful Times (FARMERS FIRST) Act, S. 2712, which she cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) provides seed funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to state agriculture departments, state extension services, and non-profits to establish helplines, provide suicide prevention training for farm advocates, create support groups, and reestablish the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.
“Iowa farmers work tirelessly from sunrise to sundown, in the rain and the shine, to feed and fuel the world. Their work isn’t easy, and mental health issues, including suicide, are becoming all too common in our agriculture community,” Sen. Ernst said last week. “It’s imperative our farmers and ranchers have access to mental health resources and support.”
The NIFA recently awarded $480,000 in grant funds to the Iowa-based national nonprofit AgriSafe Network to form its Southern Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, which will deliver stress assistance services focused on occupational hazards, as well as individual, social and mental health components that may affect a farmer’s well-being.
NIFA also awarded $480,000 to Iowa State University’s Farm and Ranch Wellness project, which will develop an online resource database that connects farmers and ranchers to stress assistance programs.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill became law, Sen. Ernst said she has been working diligently to ensure that such resources are accessible to the people in her home state who need them.
“I’m thrilled to see Iowans benefit from this important work,” she said.