There is an epidemic spreading across the fields and ranches in our country — American farmers are taking their own lives in record numbers. There is a glaring lack of support and resources for these important members of our communities.
Each and every one of us is dependent upon farmers to ensure a stable and affordable food supply, and we need to protect farmers and their livelihoods.
A new bi-partisan bill is aiming to reverse this alarming trend. HR5259, or the STRESS Act, would provide critical resources for farmers experiencing emotional, physical, and financial distress.
U.S. Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Tom Emmer (R-MN) are spearheading the act, which would establish the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). This network would provide and coordinate assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, including crisis hotlines, educational and outreach services, and training for farmer advocates.
Fill out this form to urge your representatives to protect our farmers and support HR5259!
Background: American Farmers and Mental Health
Those who lived through the Farm Crisis in the 1980s may remember the launch of Farm Aid by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp. They organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on the land.
Many of the complex policies that contributed to that crisis are still in place today, making farming uncertain and increasingly stressful. Farm income has dropped drastically in the past 5 years, and it is not uncommon for many of our Arizona farmers to just barely make ends meet. Imagine the strain of maintaining a farm that has been in your family for generations, working endless hours every day of the week, and yet still operating in the red. These factors and more put immense pressure on our rural farming communities.
Access to mental health resources is critical for those who we all depend on to get our food each and every day.
Statements of Support:
Arizona Congressional District 1 Representative Tom O’Halleran:
“In Arizona, our farmers, ranchers, and agriculture producers grow some of the world’s finest cotton, lettuce, and alfalfa. They are some of the hardest working men and women in the nation, and they wear that badge with pride. We have a responsibility to support the folks who put food on our table and clothes on our back. In addition to improving access to rural health care, we can do this by investing in comprehensive behavioral and mental health services. I am proud to support a bipartisan reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.”
National Policy Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition Andrew Bahrenburg:
“Mental health impacts all farmers and ranchers, regardless of age. We must ensure that the farm safety net includes resources for those facing stress and emotional crisis. The introduction of the STRESS Act sends an important message to farm families: you’re not alone. When these challenges are left unspoken, swept under the rug, or stigmatized, our entire community is impacted. Young farmers everywhere can experience the social isolation, financial stress, and emotional fatigue that comes from pouring everything they have into their farms. We need to do a better job of ensuring they have the resources and support to get through it."