President Trump is expected to sign a farm bill next week that includes the reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), a mental health resources program that allocates $10 million in annual funding through 2023. Today, on Farm Aid’s behalf, I issued the following statement regarding the inclusion of this program.
“The farm economy continues to falter, with no immediate sign of improvement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a 12 percent decline in net farm income in 2018, falling to levels not experienced since 2002. Calls to Farm Aid’s hotline continue at a blistering pace, and America’s family farmers — reduced in numbers since the 1980s — have approached endangered status.
While the FRSAN doesn’t address the financial and legal stress caused by this historic farm crisis, it is an important first step to repairing the safety net for farmers and addressing the mental health consequences. Paying attention to the whole health of farmers is essential to guaranteeing a healthy farm and food system. As a population, farmers face some of the biggest challenges to accessing quality mental health care, including cultural barriers to asking for help, availability and accessibility of care, health insurance coverage and more.
Since 1985, Farm Aid has partnered with rural organizations across the country to provide individualized services to farmers who experience extreme stress due to the nature of their work, with so much being out of their control. Our hope is that the funding provided by FRSAN will help this network more fully address the mental health needs of our nation’s farm families. We have every hope that Congress will grant FRSAN the full funding of $10 million per year from 2019 to 2023 in the next appropriations cycle.”