A group of farm organizations led by the National Farmers Union are urging Congress to address farmer suicide rates in the next farm bill.
The Coalition of 35 farm groups are asking lawmakers to make mental health treatment more accessible to farmers through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. NFU points out that farmers and ranchers commit suicide at a rate five times that of the general population.
The groups sent a letter to U.S. Senate and House agriculture committees’ leadership Monday. The letter states that economic conditions, like seen currently, along with unpredictable weather and heavy workloads “place a significant strain on a farmer or rancher’s mental and emotional well-being.”
The 2008 Farm Bill established the assistance network to provide grants to extension services and nonprofit organizations that offer stress assistance programs. However, the network has never received funding from Congress.