OPINION  The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the Seeding Rural Resilience Act sponsored by U.S. Sen. Raymond Jon Tester, D-Montana-Big Sandy, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa-New Hartford. The act is designed to help farmers respond to stress and decrease the stigma associated with mental-health care in rural communities.

Farmers and ranchers are some of the most resilient people you will ever meet. But times are tough on the farm. And with challenges from weather, trade and depressed commodity prices, it can definitely wear down the resiliency of farmers. The Seeding Rural Resilience Act will be instrumental in bringing mental-health resources and awareness to rural communities.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is committed to raising awareness about the benefits of seeking support and how to recognize the signs that someone needs help.

According to a Morning Consult research poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation in April 2019, a strong majority of farmers and farmworkers say several items are impacting the mental health of farmers and ranchers.

  • financial issues – 91 percent
  • farm or business problems – 88 percent
  • fear of losing the farm – 87 percent

Almost half of rural adults at 48 percent say they are personally experiencing more mental-health challenges than they were a year ago.

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act creates three initiatives aimed at promoting mental-health awareness in rural America.

  • Implement a farmer-facing employee-training program that requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide voluntary stress-management training to Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service employees.
  • Form a partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA to create a $3 million public-service announcement to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress, and destigmatize mental-health care in rural communities.
  • Direct the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and nongovernmental stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.

Visit www.tester.senate.gov for more information.

Anyone who is experiencing a mental-health crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.

Zippy Duvall is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Visit www.fb.org for more information.