The Seeding Rural Resilience Act, sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), as included in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (FY21 NDAA), headed to the president’s desk in mid December, and became law after the House and Senate overrode President Trump’s veto of the defense bill.
APA has taken significant steps to support farmers’ mental health and other often underserved individuals living in rural and agricultural communities. Earlier this year, APA joined with the mental health community in support of the bipartisan bill and advocated for its inclusion in the NDAA.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the rate is significantly higher in rural communities than urban areas. Farmers, ranchers, and other rural Americans are at particular risk of suicide given a variety of stress-inducing factors, including social isolation, economic challenges, and poor access to mental health resources and support services.
The initiatives created by the bill, including a voluntary stress training management program and public service announcement campaign, will build upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s existing Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Program.
APA applauds the senators for promoting mental health and saving lives by spearheading this important bill through Congress and looks forward to continued advocacy on suicide prevention next Congress.
For more information, contact Laurel Stine.