Two farm state Senators are promoting legislation that seeks to curb farmer suicides. Announced last month, the Seeding Rural Resilience Act would offer ways to help farmers and rural America deal with stress. The bill was formally introduced this week by Senator John Tester, a Democrat from Montana, and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley and Tester say the legislation is receiving praise from farm and mental health organizations. Tester says the legislation “puts us on track towards giving farmers the resources they need” to cope with stress in a tough economy.
Federal data shows the suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural America than in urban areas. The bill would provide Department of Agriculture employees voluntary stress management training, and for a partnership with the Department of Health to create a $3 million public awareness campaign and create a path to identify the best practices for responding to farm and ranch stress.