ASA advocates for full Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network funding

ASA and numerous other ag, rural and mental health professional organizations across the country are urging Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) at $10 million as subcommittees develop ag appropriations bills for FY 2023.

The purpose of FRSAN is to establish and fund a service provider network that connects individuals and their families engaged in farming, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs.

In a letter to House and Senate ag appropriation subcommittee leadership, the groups reiterated the critical need for mental health services in rural areas, where stress challenges are mounting and resources are limited.

According to recent polls, more farmers are experiencing an uptick in mental health challenges and stress due to ongoing volatility in the farm economy, financial risk, weather unpredictability, changing climate, and more.

“A Morning Consult poll conducted in December 2021 found that during that calendar year, most farmers and farm workers (61%) and rural adults (52%) reported experiencing more stress and mental health challenges compared to the prior year,” groups state in the letter. “The same poll also found that while stigma around seeking help or treatment for mental health has decreased, it remains a factor, especially in agriculture.” Read the full letter here.

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association prioritizes rural mental health funding while visiting with lawmakers. Minnesota farmers can click here to access rural mental health resources provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

#SoyHelp returns; requests for your stories

The soybean industry is working beyond ASA’s appeals to Congress for funding rural mental health programs. This May during Mental Health Month, ASA and the United Soybean Board will once again promote resources for managing or treating farm stress along with other mental health concerns.

ASA with support from USB and soy states started the #SoyHelp campaign in 2020 following increased levels of stress reported by soy farmers stemming from the pandemic. The campaign continued last year, but 2022 will see new messaging and materials aimed at education and awareness to help those in need.

#SoyHelp is social media-driven and features editorials, provider links, tips and techniques to manage stress or recognize warning signs, along with other content. By partnering this year to launch a larger campaign, the soy organizations are able to add radio advertising support in most major soy states to reach more farmers and encourage bringing rural mental wellbeing into mainstream conversation.

Often the first step toward help is understanding friends and colleagues in farming have encountered similar situations. As ASA and USB look toward Mental Health Month this May, we are collecting stories — anonymous is OK — to convey that farmers, their families, and farm industry friends truly are not alone.

This brief and anonymous form will remain open the month of April for sharing.

Follow The Conversation