Blue Dog Coalition endorses suicide prevention bill |

Blue Dog Coalition endorses suicide prevention bill

The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, a bipartisan bill intended to address the growing rate of suicide in rural communities across the country.

The bill was introduced in the House by Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chair Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., Rep John Katko, R-N.Y., and Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.

The companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate rose in all 50 states between 1999 and 2016, but it is 45% higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

“Our bill will help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in our rural communities and ensure all farmers have better access to mental health care,” Brinidisi said.

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act would:

▪ Implement a “Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program” requiring the Agriculture Department to provide voluntary stress management training to Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and National Resources Conservation Service employees.

▪ Form a partnership between the Health and Human Services Department and USDA to create a $3 million public service announcement to increase awareness of farm and ranch stress and destigmatize mental health care in rural communities.

▪ Direct the Agriculture Department to work with state, local, and nongovernmental stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.

The bipartisan legislation is supported by the American Dairy Coalition, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychological Association, Farm Aid, Female Farmer Project, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers’ Association, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers’ Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sunflower Association, National Young Farmers Coalition, Rural & Agricultural Council of America, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Association.