Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a lifelong farmer and member of the Agriculture Committee, is requesting an update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on efforts to implement the Seeding Rural Resilience Act. In 2020, Grassley and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) successfully included their Seeding Rural Resilience Act – a bill designed to curb the rising rate of suicide in rural areas – in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The law requires interagency coordination between USDA and HHS.
“The Seeding Rural Resilience Act created a voluntary stress management program that helps train Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees to detect stress and destigmatize mental health care,” Grassley wrote. “Given the important interagency work that USDA and HHS must be taking to implement the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, I am requesting an update on your implementation efforts.”
Grassley notes current economic conditions make timely implementation of the law even more important.
“The USDA expects 2022 net farm income to increase by 5.2 percent. However, when adjusted for inflation, 2022 net farm income is projected to decrease. This decrease in income and rising prices of diesel, fertilizer, and crop protection tools leave many family farmers with feelings of desperation and hopelessness. The timely implementation of the Seeding Rural Resilience Act can provide life-saving resources to rural Americans,” Grassley continued.
In February and again in June, Grassley asked Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about efforts he is taking to support implementation of the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, given the surgeon general’s emphasis on improving mental health. To date, Grassley has not received an answer from the surgeon general.
Full letter text is available HERE.
Previously, Grassley helped pass the bipartisan FARMERS FIRST Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, which made grants available for helplines and support groups.