Action to expand behavioral health services for our farmers

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Agriculture is the engine of Iowa’s economy, the livelihood of farmers and their families, and the lifeblood of our rural communities in the 4th Congressional District.

Our producers work long hours in all kinds of weather conditions to grow food and produce the fuel our country and the world rely on.

Their hard work is the reason that Iowa remains the breadbasket of the world and that our district in particular leads the nation in the production of corn, pork, eggs and biofuel.

However, farming can be a lonely endeavor, and it can also be a stressful industry when the economy takes a turn for the worse, tornadoes and hurricanes destroy farms, and animal diseases affect herds and livestock – all of which affect the welfare of our producers.

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health commissioned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 8.6 million Americans living in rural communities reported experiencing behavioral health challenges. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also reports that suicide rates are higher in rural America than in big cities with 18.3 to 20.5 cases per 100,000 residents in rural communities compared to 10.9 per 100,000 in the centers. in urban areas.

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Sixty-five percent of rural counties lack a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, highlighting the prevalence of rural health care deserts in Iowa and across the Midwest.

These statistics cannot be the norm. Our farmers and our families deserve access to high-quality care – regardless of their ZIP code.

That’s why, as a strong voice for our farmers and rural communities in Congress, I’m proud to introduce the Farmers First Act, which will expand behavioral health resources in our rural communities and connect our -farming of medical professionals who can provide the care that our producers deserve. .

More specifically, this legislation would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, increase funding by a total of $15 million annually over the next five years, and allow FRSAN regional centers to establish referral connections to certified community behavioral health clinics, critical access hospitals, and rural health centers.

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By working together and coordinating with rural health centers, hospitals and clinics, we can ensure that our farmers and their families receive the personal, fast care they need.

I thank my colleagues — Reps. Mike Bost (R-Illinois), Zach Nunn (R-Iowa), Jim Costa (D-California) and Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) — as I join this worthy mission to ensure that our hardworking farmers have access to the resources they need to continue their selfless work to feed and grow our country and the world.

Serving on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, I will continue my work to expand access to health care services in our rural communities, connecting people in times of crisis with support that they deserve, and serve our farmers and rural communities to the best of my ability.

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We will be in government together, and your thoughts and opinions are important to me. Please contact my office in Feenstra. House. Gov or by phone at 202-225-4426 if I can be of assistance. I am proud to represent our families, farmers, high street businesses, and rural communities in Congress.

Randy Feenstra of Hull represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. He can be reached through feenstra.house.gov.