Senator Reverend Warnock: “I was so glad to have this conversation today—to chip away at that stigma, and to center the needs of our farming community in federal efforts to strengthen mental health care and mental health care access.
ICYMI from WMAZ: Senator Raphael Warnock supports Georgia farmers on mental health
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, brought Georgia farmers and agricultural leaders together with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh and other top USDA officials in Middle Georgia to discuss challenges and best practices regarding farm stress and mental health. The roundtable discussion was hosted at Musella Baptist Church, before State Representative Robert Dickey, who also attended the roundtable, led Senator Warnock and Dr. Bronaugh on a tour of the peach processing facility at Dickey Farms. During the roundtable, the Senator heard from farmers about some of the leading causes of stress, including decreasing profitability of their goods and the unpredictability of markets, and how as farming gets tougher, it makes it harder for young people to successfully enter the profession. The farmers also discussed the role extreme weather plays as a stressor, the need to strengthen mental health care capacity in farming and rural communities, and the importance of healthy agricultural markets to local communities.
In his remarks throughout the discussion, the Senator highlighted his work to ease stressors and economic tensions for farmers, including his work to secure $10 million in funding for USDA’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) in the most recent spending bill, which helps to better connect farmers to farm stress resources. Senator Warnock also highlighted a package of bills he introduced that would expand access to mental health service across Georgia, including support for tele-behavioral services and crisis counseling during natural disasters. The Senator closed the discussion by reiterating his commitment to working alongside Georgians to support farmers, expand access to mental health and stress resources, and to tackle the underlying drivers of stress; the Senator is pushing for strong FRSAN funding in the next Farm Bill
“As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, I’m glad to be at Dickey Farms today with local farmers and Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, to talk about the importance of supporting mental health access for our farmers and addressing farm stress,” Senator Reverend Warnock said after the event.“Farming is a tough job: between supply chain shortages, rising costs of farming essentials, market consolidation, COVID-19, and extreme weather conditions, it’s no surprise University of Georgia found most Georgia farmers’ stress level is at a four out of five. That’s why I was so glad to have this conversation today—to chip away at that stigma, and to center the needs of our farming community in federal efforts to strengthen mental health care and mental health care access.”